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Rightmove: UK asking prices hit by summer slump

Average asking prices had their usual seasonal dip this month, dropping by just £21 to £375,110, according to Rightmove data.

The portal’s latest House Price Index suggests average new to market listing prices remain flat after reaching a record in May. 

Rightmove said the strongest price growth this month is occurring in the less expensive and more northerly regions, with five of the six cheapest areas reaching new price records. In contrast, the higher-priced East of England and London regions lag and see this month’s only regional price falls.

The index suggests the market is remaining stable despite the General Election, with the number of sales being agreed up 6% annually over the past four weeks and the number of buyers sending enquiries to agents rising by 5%.

One area of activity that does appear to have seen some impact from the election being called is the number of new sellers coming to market, mainly due to some hesitancy at the top end, Rightmove said.

In the past two weeks, the overall number of new sellers coming to market is just 1% higher than the same period a year ago. 

In contrast, during the two weeks prior, the number of new sellers deciding to come to market was a more robust 6% above 2023’s level, highlighting a slight drop off in new seller activity as news of the surprise election announcement caused some hesitancy.

This dip is most prominent in the top-end sector, covering the largest five-bedroom-plus properties and four-bedroom detached houses. The number of new sellers choosing to come to market in the last two weeks in this sector is 3% lower than the same period a year ago, compared with being 11% higher than 2023 in the previous two weeks. 

Average asking prices for top of the ladder homes were down 0.6% on a monthly basis to £689,810.

The largest growth was second stepper homes, with average asking prices up 0.2% over the month to £343,947, while the typical price of a first-time buyer home dipped 0.1% to £227,757.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, added that the average time between agreeing a sale and legal completion is now a “painful” five months, or 154 days. In total, it is taking more than seven months on average from a seller coming to market to completing their move.

Bannister said realistic pricing when first listing rather than reducing later is key to getting a property sold.

Rightmove’s research shows it takes on average 32 days for a sale to be agreed for a property that is priced right from the outset, less than a third of the 112 days that it takes if the home requires an asking price reduction before it has found a buyer.

Bannister said: “We expect that the improved market activity levels and conditions this year will result in higher transaction numbers at the end of 2024 than last year. However, the extremely lengthy legal completion process is a frustrating barrier to home-movers converting agreed sales into completed transactions more quickly.

“It may seem surreal to be thinking about Christmas in May, but we know that many would-be sellers picture celebrating the festivities in a new home, and to achieve that, now is the time to be coming to market. One strategy that is still giving some sellers the edge in this price-sensitive market, is working closely with an estate agent to price attractively right at the start of marketing, to give themselves the best chance of finding a buyer quickly.”

Commenting on the resport, Matt Thompson, head of sales at Chestertons, said: “We are now in the last days of the typically busy spring market and, compared to last month, are seeing a bounce in buyer activity. 

“Particularly since the date for the General Election has been announced, house hunters who have been on the fence due to political uncertainty have become more confident about going ahead with their purchase. As a result, we expect June to conclude with a heightened level of buyer interest.”
 

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