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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Rightmove and Zoopla agree - the market's slowing gradually

Both major portals have this morning revealed more evidence of a gently slowing housing market.

The average time to sell a property across Great Britain as a whole has risen from 72 days a year ago to 77 now according to Rightmove.

The portal defines time to sell as being the duration between when a property first lists on Rightmove and when it is marked under offer or sold subject to contract by an agent.

However, as ever, the national average masks many regional variations. Towns in the North West are where sellers have seen the biggest improvements from last year, with Burnley, Morecambe, Widnes, Lancaster and Oldham all cutting their selling time by at least 14 days.

In Scotland, Livingston is where homes are selling quickest. On average, it takes just 35 days for properties to get snapped up in the West Lothian town.

It’s Redditch in the West Midlands which takes top spot as the fastest-selling market in England, with properties in the Worcestershire town selling in 45 days, on average.

Gloucester and Wellingborough are the second and third quickest-to-sell locations in England, although homes in Gloucester are taking two days longer to sell than they were this time last year.

In Wales, Newport is the fastest-moving housing market, with homes being sold in 47 days there.

Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside says: “More northerly regions are faring better in terms of pricing power and willingness to move than those farther south. Agents report that properties in the North West are seeing positive market conditions with strong demand from buyers. Once again improvements in local-level infrastructure is a key factor, with the top areas benefiting from better transport links to bigger city centre employment hubs.”

Meanwhile the latest city index from Zoopla says average house prices are 2.9 per cent higher now than in January 2018 - but there’s a slowdown in most of the 20 urban areas analysed.

Zoopla attributes the slowdown to a mix of affordability pressures and political and economic uncertainty. The sharpest slowing over the last 12 months has been registered in Edinburgh, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth.

However, Zoopla insists that underlying market fundamentals remain strong across 12 of the cities it assesses, primarily large regional ones outside southern England. 

Nottingham has the strongest market conditions where the average time to sell is less than eight weeks and sellers are accepting a 2.2 per cent discount to the asking price – equivalent to £3,340. 

The weakest market conditions are in London and Aberdeen where discounts are over five per cent and the average time to sell is over 3.5 months. Market conditions in Aberdeen remain weak as a result of the fall in the oil price and average home values are £34,000 lower than mid-2015.

Across London as a whole, the gap between asking and sales price has widened from just 1.0 per cent three years ago to 5.1 per cent today equivalent to an average discount of £24,500. Discounts are largest in inner London where price falls are most concentrated. 

The 20 cities covered by the index contain 35 per cent of the UK housing stock by volume and 43 per cent of capital value.

“The speed of price growth has moderated on affordability pressures and increased uncertainty. Thirteen cities are recording weaker annual house price growth than at the same time a year ago. Some of the sharpest slowdowns in annual house price growth over the last year have been registered in Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Bristol” explains Richard Donnell, Zoopla’s Research and Insight Director.

“The current housing cycle started almost a decade ago and is unfolding at different speeds across each city driven by local factors, primarily growth in incomes and employment and overall levels of housing affordability.

“Three years ago London house prices were rising in double digits and the discount to asking price was just 1.0 per cent. Affordability pressures and tax changes have impacted demand for housing and the result has been a widening in discounts from asking prices as a result of price sensitive buyers and sellers reluctant to provide significant discounts.”

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