The average asking price, as recorded by Rightmove, has fallen for the first time this year.
In another sign that the market is finally cooling as the stamp duty holiday tapers to a close next month, the portal says there’s been a 0.3 per cent drop in average asking price.
In terms of property type the biggest hit has been taken by the four-bedroom-plus sector - down 0.8 per cent - while those properties classified by Rightmove as being for first time buyers and second steppers showed small rises.
The lower-priced sectors are much less affected by the withdrawal of most stamp duty incentives.
Overall buyer demand remains strong, with the portal suggesting this could yet mean an autumn bounce in prices and seller activity.
Demand statistics for the first week in August are up 56 per cent on the same period in 2019, but are down 17 per cent on the frenzied post-lockdown summer of last year.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, comments: “New sellers dropping their asking prices can ring economy alarm bells, especially when it’s the first time so far this year, so it’s important to dig underneath the headline figures.
“Firstly, we are in the holiday season which means that sellers have traditionally tempted distracted buyers with lower prices, though that might well be less applicable this year with many buyers having to stay a lot closer to home. Indeed, our analysis shows that average prices have only fallen in the upper-end sector, which is usually more affected by seasonal factors such as the summer holidays and has also seen the greatest withdrawal of stamp duty incentives.
“The mass-market of properties that cater for first-time buyers and second-steppers is still seeing high demand and upwards price pressure leading to new record high average prices in those sectors. In England there remains a smaller stamp duty saving of up to £2,500, though the window to take advantage of this saving by buying now and completing by the end of September is pretty much closed.”
Rightmove claims that these market conditions mean that home-owners who have yet to come to market and address their new housing needs should act soon to get a better chance of a quick sale at a good price and be in their new home before Christmas.
Rightmove’s analysis shows that the likelihood of sellers finding a buyer remains at, or close to, an all-time high.
The average time for a newly listed property to be marked sold subject to contract is the quickest ever at 36 days, which is a whole month faster than in February 2020 - that was the last period before the first lockdown.
Bannister adds: “Sell before you buy is a successful tactic in fast moving markets, especially the current one where any new listings popular in both specification and location are selling in days rather than weeks. Your own buyer will have to show a degree of patience while you wait for the right property to come to market, though the pedestrian speed of the normal legal process often creates the opportunity to play catch-up later if it takes a few weeks to find the right property.
“Some sellers are even completing their sale and going into intermediate rented accommodation and then buying, though this takes extra resolve and time. Having operated in a very fast moving market for over a year now, estate agents know the best tactics to secure the best properties, so it’s well worth sounding them out with a discussion on selling before buying.”