By Daniel Hunter
Rightmove's October House Price Index sees a jump in new seller average asking prices of 3.5% (+£8,310), the biggest increase for eight months. This goes a long way towards reversing the Olympic-induced price lull over the summer, which saw asking prices of property coming to market fall by 4.6% (-£11,377) over the three months between June and September.
This price rebound indicates the market is not performing as badly as some feared. However, sellers looking to try for a higher price should note Rightmove research which suggests that only a few segments of the market have a robust statistical case to justify higher property values than seen in the peak years of 2007 and 2008.
In addition, fewer than two in five potential buyers state that they would actually arrange to visit a property if they consider it to ‘match their criteria but be over-priced’.
“This month’s jump of more than £8,000 in asking prices is partly an anticipated bounce after the Olympic-induced activity doldrums, though with all regions seeing increases it also provides evidence of some life in the market," Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at Rightmove said.
"The prospect of a few active selling weeks before the winter slowdown means estate agents are keen to attract fresh stock to try and land more buyers. However, this stock-building could backfire if they agree to over-ambitious pricing to please a seller, as it could curb a potential buyer’s enthusiasm to arrange a viewing if the over-priced alarm bell starts ringing.”
The upturn in asking prices, in the absence of other positive influences, is most likely attributable to the continued shortage of new property supply. The weekly run-rate of fresh property stock this month is down by 0.4% on the same period a year ago, indicating little change in sellers’ willingness or ability to come to market. Estate agents are also experiencing a squeeze in average unsold stock per estate agency branch. This figure now stands at 72 properties, a near 10% reduction compared to the 78 recorded a year ago, and much of that stock is “stuck” on the market at prices that render it effectively un-saleable.
“After a summer of sporting distractions, optimists may consider lower unsold stock levels and strong pricing to be signs of recovery," Shipside adds.
"However, sellers still need to be mindful that the window of opportunity to sell before the traditional winter slowdown is a narrow one, and they risk being left out in the cold for months until the spring market thaw. In addition, estate agents are reporting that mortgages are still no easier to obtain, with risk-averse lenders nit-picking every detail of the mortgage application paperwork, even from buyers who seem squeaky clean.”
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