House prices flat with sellers ‘realistic’ in February: Rightmove   


Average house asking prices were virtually flat this month, posting the smallest-ever increase from January to February, according to data from Rightmove.   

New seller home prices lifted by just £14 in the period to £362,452, with “sellers being more realistic on price” says the online property site’s latest House Price Index.   

It was the first time prices were flat at this time of the year since the survey began in 2002. Annual property growth lifted by 3.9% in February, from 6.3% a month ago.  

It adds the number of potential housebuyers contacting agents is up by 11% in the last two weeks compared with the same period in 2019’s “more normal market”.  

The number of sales agreed “continues to rebound”, the report says, and is now 11% down on 2019 levels, recovering from 15% down at the start of the year, and 30% down in the aftermath of September’s mini-budget.  

It points out that sales in the first-time buyer sector are the most robust, just 7% down on 2019.

The snapshot says, “new sellers have broken with tradition and held prices static for the first time ever at this time of year rather than increase them.   

“Transitions from a fast to a slower-paced market have historically had many different paths, and whilst it’s early days the combination of sellers being more realistic on price and an improving picture on the number of sales being agreed suggests a softer landing for the market than many expected.”  

However, there is still an overall shortage of property for sale, down by 24% compared to 2019, although “there is more choice for buyers than a year ago”, the report adds.   

Rightmove director of property science Tim Bannister says: “The big question this month was whether we would see new sellers increasing their asking prices as has been the yearly norm as we approach the spring selling season.   

“This month’s flat average asking price indicates that many sellers are breaking with tradition and showing unseasonal initial pricing restraint.

“In addition to market conditions demanding greater realism on price, we are transitioning into a slower paced market, where buyers will take longer to find the right property at the right price due to the higher cost of servicing a mortgage.   

“There are other indicators that this will be a softer rather than a hard transition despite the turbulence at the end of 2022.” 

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