Property listings and sales remain down on pre-pandemic levels but there are signs that sellers are starting to heed agent advice about getting the price right first time, Rightmove claims.
The portal’s latest House Price index of asking prices showed the value of new listings was flat this month, rising by just £14, the smallest ever increase between January and February.
Rightmove suggested this meant “more sellers are heeding their agents’ advice to price right first time.”
The annual asking price change also slowed from 6.3% to 3.9% to an average of £362,452.
The report paints a mixed picture of supply and demand.
Rightmove said the number of potential buyers contacting agents is up by 11% over the past two weeks compared with the same period in 2019.
The property website suggests this demand is beginning to translate into sales, as the number of sales agreed is now just 11% down on the same period in 2019’s more normal market, picking up from 15% down at the start of the year and “vastly improved” from 30% down in the aftermath of September’s mini-Budget.
The first-time buyer sector is holding up most strongly, Rightmove claims, and is down only 7% on 2019.
Conversely and an indication of hyper-local and sector differences, sales in the top-of-the-ladder sector are down by 16% in the first two weeks of February compared with the same time in 2019, according to Rightmove.
While there is still an overall shortage of property for sale, with available properties to buy down by 24% compared to 2019, Rightmove said the number of available homes for sale is up by 48% on the record low levels of last year.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, said: “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. Homeowners who are coming to market in the upcoming spring season should use their agent’s expertise and get the price right the first time, which can really help to find the right buyer more quickly.”
Commenting on the report, Matt Thompson, head of sales for Chestertons, said: “This month, we have so far seen a 17% uplift in viewings and 14% decrease in withdrawals.
"This shows us that there are currently fewer window shoppers and the buyers who are entering the market are more serious about closing a deal.
"For the remainder of February, as mortgage products have already come down, we expect to see more buyers wanting to capitalise on favourable rates before we enter the spring market which is expected to get more competitive due to pent-up demand.”