By Daniel Hunter
The Olympics distraction did not deter new sellers from coming to market during August, with numbers marginally up on the same period a year ago, although asking prices have been adversely affected.
This is the largest monthly fall Rightmove has ever recorded in the month of August and follows a fall of 1.7% in July. Sellers who come to market in the middle of the summer holiday season often have an urgent reason to sell and traditionally set their asking prices aggressively lower, though -2.4% (-£5,837) is a substantial drop compared to the average fall of -1.1% measured in August over the last 10 years.
With buyers distracted by sport and the economic backdrop, sellers will now have to compete hard to win their attention in the upcoming autumn selling season in order to move before Christmas.
"The Olympics may have focused the nation’s attention on sporting goals in the last month, but for over 120,000 new sellers their goal was to sell their property," Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst commented.
"One would perhaps expect some sellers to have postponed their marketing plans until after the Olympic distractions, though with more ‘working from home’ it may have given them an opportunity to begin their property move a few weeks earlier in readiness for the hoped-for upturn in buyer activity in the lead up to Christmas.
"The number of new sellers is slightly up on the same period last year, though perhaps as a reflection of their urgency to sell, or to compensate for the distraction of the achievements served up by Team GB, they have dropped their asking prices more aggressively than summer sellers in previous years.”
Rightmove measured 127,992 properties coming to market this month, up by 0.4% on August 2011. With many estate agents reporting a slow summer sales market, the large monthly fall of 2.4% in new seller asking prices is also a sign of some reticence by estate agents to put property on the market at higher prices, especially when existing stock for sale is failing to attract serious buyer interest. All regions of the country recorded month-on-month price falls for the first time since November 2011.
“Estate agents are always aiming to win new seller instructions, but if what’s already on the market isn’t shifting then the best advice they can give to potential new sellers is to undercut those properties already failing to sell," Shipside added.
"With a few more summer sellers around, it seems agents are being a bit blunter on valuations in local markets where summer buyers are scarce. With the average time on the market being 92 days, any seller coming to market and hoping to move before Christmas needs to get their skates on to tempt a buyer who can proceed. It is possible that they may be assisted by the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme, which may lead to greater mortgage availability at more competitive rates.”
While Rightmove visitor traffic during the Olympic period was up on the same period in 2011, the actual time spent searching and number of pages of property they viewed was down. This indicates that search activity was being interrupted by the relentless number of magical Olympic moments bringing Britain to a standstill.
Site activity dropped by as much as half during the time that these events took place as people became regularly disengaged from their property search. Among the most notable dips in site traffic were the opening and closing ceremonies, ‘Super Saturday’s’ three British gold medal winning performances and Usain Bolt’s star turns.
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