Housing market stutters as election nears

The housing market continued to lose momentum during April as potential buyers remained cautious in the face of the General Election, research showed today.

The rate at which properties in England and Wales came on to the market also outstripped demand from new buyers for the third consecutive month, further reducing the recent upward pressure on prices.

Property intelligence firm Hometrack said estate agents were reporting that buyers were taking longer to commit to properties, with the number of viewings needed per sale increasing for the third consecutive month.

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At the same time, the percentage of their asking price that sellers were achieving remained unchanged at 94 per cent, ending a 13-month run during which it had increased, while the average time it takes a home to sell has levelled off at 8.3 weeks.

Prices edged ahead by just 0.2 per cent during the month, following increases of 0.3 per cent during each of the previous two months, and Hometrack said estate agents appeared to be finding it increasingly difficult to maintain price rises while still achieving sales volumes.

The director of research at Hometrack, Richard Donnell, said: "As the supply of homes for sale continues to outpace demand, so the impetus for price rises is set to wane."

The group said the number of potential buyers registering with estate agents had risen by just 1 per cent during the month, while the supply of homes being put up for sale had increased by 3.7 per cent.

It said the election was being cited as a factor behind the growing uncertainty among home-buyers.

Hometrack also warned the headline figure for house price rises during the month was being skewed by the London market, where the average cost of a home rose by 0.6 per cent.

But in Yorkshire and the Humber prices fell by 0.1 per cent, while in Wales they remained unchanged.