Average property asking prices creep up again, Rightmove says


Average asking prices have ‘surprisingly’ increased in the past four weeks, after three consecutive months of falls, fresh data from property website Rightmove reveals. 

According to Rightmove’s latest figures, average asking price swelled by £1,522, or 0.5 per cent, to £318,580 in the past month.

The property site says one in five buyers who agreed a purchase in July last year have still not completed over six months later, leaving around 100,000 buyers likely to miss out on their expected tax saving.

Last week, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors also said there had been a marked rise in prices last month, prompting one insider to claim homes are being priced by sellers to ‘expectation rather than reality.’ 

Ups and downs: Shifts in property prices in the past month and the last year, according to Rightmove

Ups and downs: Shifts in property prices in the past month and the last year, according to Rightmove

But, with the Chancellor’s hotly-anticipated Budget just around the corner on 3 March, there is speculation that Rishi Sunak is considering extending the stamp duty holiday by six weeks to mid-May.

Sunak is understood to be considering the limited extension to help alleviate fears that sales will fall through after the 31 March deadline expires. 

He is said to be reluctant to push through a six-month extension due to the ‘gratuitous’ impact it would have on tax receipts. 

In its latest report on the state of the property market, Rightmove said the number of new buyers continued to growth last month, with demand outstripping supply and pushing up prices.

It said the number of visits to its website were 45 per cent higher in the last month than they were at the same point a year ago.

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Prospective buyers have sent enquiry numbers up 18 per cent, with the number of purchases agreed rising 7 per cent, Rightmove said.

In contrast, the Rics said that buyer enquiries and agreed sales both dropped over the last month.  

Extension? Rishi Sunak is understood to be considering extending the stamp duty holiday

Extension? Rishi Sunak is understood to be considering extending the stamp duty holiday

Trends: Average asking prices of homes up and down Britain in the past five years

Trends: Average asking prices of homes up and down Britain in the past five years

Pandemic trends: Average asking price shifts since February last year

Pandemic trends: Average asking price shifts since February last year

New seller numbers are down 21 per cent year-on-year, ‘as owners of family homes delay coming to market, perhaps due to home-schooling distractions’, Rightmove said.

Homes also seem to be taking longer to sell than they did a few months back, from 57 in December to 65 by late January. In London, the average time it takes to sell a home has gone up to 72 days, according to Rightmove. 

Richard Freshwater, a director at Cheffins in Cambridge said: ‘Lockdown number 3 brought with it a drop in the number of property valuations taking place. This has created a lack of new available stock in the market, particularly in the higher price brackets, which we forecast will bring with it a rise in property values.’

Meanwhile, Kate Eales, head of regional residential agency at Strutt & Parker estate agents, said: ‘We’re seeing some would be sellers concerned about viewings and the practicalities of putting their property on the market right now. Some are waiting until restrictions ease before marketing their home and as a result stock levels are down.’

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said that despite the looming stamp duty holiday deadline, all of the key buyer metrics were ahead of early 2020, which was itself an active period as the market was boosted by the post-election ‘Boris bounce’.

He added: ‘As well as the current lockdown motivating buyer demand again, the restrictions have also been a factor in limiting new supply, leading to some modest upwards price pressure. 

‘These are strong signs that new buyer demand is not facing a cliff-edge after the 31 March. 

‘It remains to be seen if this momentum will be enough to make up for the removal of the stamp duty savings that are benefitting many buyers and have been adding a sense of urgency to the whole market.’

Stock issues: The average number of properties on estate agent's books has gone down

Stock issues: The average number of properties on estate agent’s books has gone down

In terms of what is happening around the country, Rightmove said average asking prices in London have risen by 3 per cent in the past month, but remain down 1.1 per cent on an annual basis. 

Over the past month, average asking prices have increased by 2.2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent in Scotland, the North West and the North East respectively.

But, in the South West, East Midlands and the West Midland average asking prices have all fallen slightly over the past month. 

Summing up the market’s prospects, Colby Short, founder and boss of the GetAgent website, said: ‘There’s seems to be this overarching opinion that the world will stop turning once the current stamp duty holiday expires and this is quite frankly ridiculous.’

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