Property for sale hits new low

Sarah Davidson

January 16, 2012

The property search engine said estate agents are listing an average of less than one new property per branch per week.

But search activity on Rightmove during the first 10 days of 2012 reached new record heights, up by 27% on the same period in 2011 to 44 million.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “In areas where there is a lot of property up for sale, buyers are looking hard for properties that tempt them with something really special in terms of value, potential, location or quality of finish.

“The market is stuck in a low transaction volume pit that will be hard to escape from without the mortgage funding to satisfy what appears to be strong pent-up demand.

“It emphasises the fact that were a larger number of mortgages available to the market the interest, confidence and necessity to buy would lift the current muted sales transaction numbers from the virtual subsistence level of the last three years.”

As well as less property coming to market there is less available stock already on the market compared to the same period last year.

Average unsold stock per estate agency branch is 66, the lowest measured since February 2010.

The 36,433 properties coming to market this month equate to an average of less than one new listing per branch per week.

This is the lowest recorded in the ten years of Rightmove’s House Price Index and around half of pre-credit crunch levels.

Agents report prospective sellers are being deterred by a combination of a shortage of confidence, lack of choice of property to buy and restrictive mortgage lending.

“Depending on local market conditions, there will be differing pressures on the direction of prices,” Shipside added.

“The lack of property coming to market in some areas will help to underpin new sellers’ asking prices in those locations, especially as estate agents compete to attract fresh stock for the new year.”

Asking prices of new property coming to market saw an increase of 1.4% in the first week of 2012, masked within the overall monthly price fall of 0.8%.

Year-on-year asking prices remain virtually unchanged, up by a nominal 0.4%, though with RPI running at 5.2% this represents a fall in real terms.

Shipside added: “The increased market fragmentation caused by the credit crunch means that success in selling now requires a very careful and complex micro-market analysis, rather than a wishful price-punt to see what happens.

“There can be hotspots and blackspots by property type within the same geographic location depending on local buyer confidence, demographics and their ability to obtain a mortgage, so doing your research and taking expert advice are critical.”

Rightmove forecasts that the market will remain challenging and fragmented during 2012.

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