‘New year bounce’ as housing prices rise

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THE housing market is showing signs of a “new year bounce” in activity, with new sellers hiking their asking prices by nearly £4,000 in January, according to one of the country’s leading property search websites.

The price of property coming on the market increased by 1.4 per cent or £3,798 compared with December – despite January usually being a month when asking prices fall, Rightmove said today.

Across England and Wales, the average asking price for a property is £273,275, which is 8.2 per cent higher than a year ago.

Rightmove said that while it is still early days, “there are signs of a new year bounce-back”, with visits to the website this year so far running at 10 per cent higher than a year ago.

Yorkshire and the North-East are the only regions in the country where prices have fallen month-on-month, although they are 1.6 per cent higher in the region than a year ago at £158,600, the website reports.

The average asking price on a first-time buyer property is now £163,250 – 10.5 per cent increase on a year ago.

Rightmove also said that the recent reforms to Stamp Duty, which have made the tax less expensive for the vast majority of home buyers, could mean potential savings of as much as £1,250 for a first-time buyer. In further signs that the wider market is showing an early pick-up in 2015, Rightmove said it had more than 52 million page views on Sunday last week, marking a new record for the website.

It said signs of increased interest in homes for sale, combined with estate agents reporting low stocks of property on the market in popular locations, is likely to create a further upward pressure on prices in desirable areas.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said signs of “early-bird activity” in 2015 could be a result of the stamp duty changes unveiled in December and are expected to encourage more people to move home, but he added: “Rightmove still cautions sellers that it will be harder to sell in 2015 than in 2014.”

He said the looming General Election could cause some disruption to the market. Mortgage lenders are also showing signs of introducing more selective criteria – and this could mean that buyers who are able to pass the criteria and secure a mortgage will be more “fussy” about the home they buy, he said.

Mr Shipside said: “Buyers deemed mortgage-worthy will value their hard-won purchase pots and want to spend them wisely.

“That might mean stretching themselves to afford a property that ticks all the boxes, but wanting a heavy discount on one that falls short.”

Rightmove’s figures show that asking prices in London have seen the highest year-on-year increase, at 12.8 per cent, pushing the average price to £566,400.

The North-East recorded the lowest year-on-year increase of just 0.8 per cent, behind only Yorkshire.