House sellers have become more confident of selling their properties, raising asking prices to the highest amount ever recorded for April, according to Rightmove, a property sale and rental website.
Six years after the crash, it is still unclear whether Britain’s housing market has recovered.
Data from the Halifax bank suggest prices are still almost a fifth below their peak, while other sources show prices back at levels last seen in 2007.
A number of policy measures have been introduced to shore up activity in the housing market, including the Help to Buy scheme, announced by George Osborne, the chancellor, as part of last month’s Budget. The scheme helps first-time buyers, as well as existing homeowners looking to buy new builds.
The Funding for Lending Scheme, unveiled by the Bank of England and the Treasury last summer, also appears to have had a greater impact on the mortgage market than on lending conditions for smaller businesses.
The data from Rightmove support the view that these initiatives are working. Sellers using its website to list their properties were asking 2.1 per cent more in April than in March. The average asking price was £244,706 – £1,500 below the all-time high recorded in June 2012 and 0.4 per cent higher than in April 2012. Houses tend to sell better during the spring and summer months.
Rightmove also reported that the gap between the sums that sellers were asking and buyers were willing to pay had narrowed and that properties were now spending an average of 73 days on the market – about a week-and-a-half less than April last year. Comparing its asking price figures with the price houses are selling for, recorded by the Land Registry, Rightmove said the gap had narrowed from 3.39 per cent in December to 2.95 per cent.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “This indicates that sellers are negotiating less and buyers are willing or able to pay more. . . The discount from the asking price on an individual property is very much a product of how realistic that price was. It is a sign of a recovering market if they are paying closer to what sellers ask.’’
A shortage of housing supply could also be behind the rise in prices. Rightmove reported that the number of homes coming on to the market was down 4 per cent on the amount seen a year ago.
London’s property market, which has had the most success in coping with the impact of the financial crisis on mortgage lending, was the only region across England and Wales to witness a fall in asking prices.
House prices in the capital fell by half a per cent to £493,635, though they remain more than 6 per cent higher than a year ago.
East Anglia witnessed the biggest jump as asking prices rose by more than 4 per cent to an average of £224,538.
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