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Written by rosalind renshaw

Asking prices for homes on the market in England and Wales have nudged up 0.3% since February, as the number of properties coming on to the market dropped.

According to Home, a property search engine which takes its data from virtually every property website and portal, new sales listings were 18% down on February last year. In London, they were down by 23%, and in East Anglia by 26%.

Home, whose numbers are put together with Calnea, the Land Registry statistician, said that altogether, just 109,560 properties were put up for sale in February, a drop of 24,000 on last February.

Although house prices have held up, time on the market has not come down and remains at 147 days.

The RICS report for February, out yesterday, said that transaction levels edged up in February. Although historically still low, it said transactions were at their highest since September 2010, despite the RICS also saying that demand from buyers was ‘flat’.

Unlike Home, the RICS report said that prices across the UK continued to dip during February.

Surveyors generally reported optimism, saying they expected both price rises and transaction levels to improve.

Alan Collett, RICS housing spokesperson, said: “With the recent upturn in activity brought on by the end of the Stamp Duty holiday, it seems that a renewed sense of optimism may be slowly returning to the property market.

“Chartered surveyors’ price predictions were more optimistic in almost every area of the country in February.
“However, with affordable mortgage finance still out of reach for many potential first-time buyers, it remains to be seen whether the more optimistic outlook for future sales can be sustained beyond the expiry of the Stamp Duty holiday.”


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    This country's mainstream media has done an abysmal job in predicting and / or analysing the financial crisis. Very few journalists understand why the Credit Crunch happened and that crazy lending into the housing market is the root of the problem. Indeed, many have a vested interest in high house prices and avoid wanting to report anything that can be interpreted as them falling.

    Take Stephanie Flanders, the BBC's supposed financial guru. She first called the UK's housing bubble as late as 2009. In her youth, she also dated both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Thus, you wont find any hint of a criticism of the last government in her material.

    Daily Express owner Richard Desmond has taken the paper out of the Press Complaints Commission, so he can use the front page to hype up house prices. He has a property portfolio of £500million...

    I could go on and on here. One of the reasons I follow the HPC site is that it is an excellent source of information about the financial crisis. Anyone reading half the articles that are linked to there will be in for a real eye-opener about how serious a mess this country's economy is in and how little of that news is featured in the mainstream media.

    Here's one little example of a story posted over there that is going to get far less coverage in the mainstream media, and also demonstrates one of many, many reasons why I think house price falls are much more likely than rises in the near future: Martin Wheatley, a director of the Financial Services Authority, told the Treasury Select Committee about the "ticking timebomb that exists today": hundreds of thousands of people in their late-50s unable to repay one of the 1.5m interest-only mortgages due to expire in the next 10 years...

    • 20 March 2012 16:37 PM
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    Rant, We have been selling plenty well below the £125k mark, properties that would have not been effected by the stamp duty threashold anyway, so can't be anything to do with the end of the stamp duty holiday. Also, many properties abouve the £175k mark have been selling, some to people in no chain, so again unaffected by the stamp duty holiday. I.e. Last week we sold a £250k house to a business couple in rented accommodation.

    Many buyers don't think through the millions of other things that could go wrong, they just listen to the news that's going on at the time. For months the Greece crisis has been on the news day after day and then a few weeks ago, it was being reported that they are in the clear for now. Around the same time we have been hearing about green shoots and house prices rising again. The exact opposite we were hearing last November & December. The Xmas period always lowers house prices and the Spring weather tends to lift house prices. This year we have had mild settled weather coupled with positive economic news and a focus of the stamp duty holiday ending at the same time changing some for-sale boards to sold, sending out powerful messages to potential buyers.

    Nice weather makes people feel positive, positive people do things to promote greater positive things in others. It's a chain reaction, which drives a greater positive outcome.

    One of our biggest trading partners is the US and umemployment is starting to fall. Unemployment being the last of the indicators to spell a recovery as umemployment tends to drag on the longest. By the time unemployment figures start to fall, the recovery would have been in full swing up to a year before. Mr Obama will also be doing everything in his power to make the US people feel great so that they will re-elect him later this year. The mini-boom he will try to create could spark the start of something much bigger which we could benefit from.

    The Euro zone will probably split into a two speed europe if Spain and Italy get close to needing a bail out. This would allow the Southern Euro countries to devalue their Euro and become more competetive, but this would be the last resort as far as Germany is concerned. The IMF is just not big enough to bail these countries out and there would be no plausable alternative.

    • 20 March 2012 01:28 AM
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    Not sure if this post will see the light of day before it is pushed out by newer articles...

    I guess this is a glass is half-empty / half-full type scenario, although I appreciate a civilised exchange on the issues involved.

    Is your good start to the year a reflection of FTBs trying to beat the stanp duty deadline (as has been heralded elsewhere)? It's good to know business is buoyant for you though.

    I'm not convinced we are near things bottoming out (particularly in real terms, even if nominal prices do stay the same). House prices in this country are still way above any historical trend lines - the salary multiple needed to buy the mythical average house today is still higher than it was at the peak of the '89 market.

    This time round, the boom period was allowed to go on as never before, through IO, self-certs, BOMAD and much more. Thus, the downcycle will be equally protracted in my opinion, much more than the four years after '89.

    Greece may have quietened down for now, but there is already talk that it will need a third bailout. Portugal is currently running about six months behind Greece in terms of its debt crisis too. Greece was always manageable because of it's relatively insignificant size. Portugal may be too, but if it dominoes, then an Italian default will be catastrophic. To go all Churchillian, we are at the end of the beginning of the Eurozone crisis and far from being out of the woods yet.

    • 18 March 2012 20:37 PM
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    I agree that timing can be everything, but taking risks plays a big part. I bought my first house in 1993, 4-years after the start of the last crash, but prices were still falling. A year and a half later I bought a second house to live in for the same price just around the corner, but it was bigger and had an en-suite, so I was a little dissappointed that my first house was actually worth less by this point. As history now shows, I bought both these properties at the right time because they both trebled in value.

    If you wait for the very bottom of the market, you actually risk missing it. I saw this in 1996 as prices started to rise. Vendor's were dropping buyers in favour of putting the properties back on the market for higher prices or allowing gazuping to take place. By the way, a buyer in a chain was gazuped last week by a first time buyer on one of our properties. The buyer in the chain was willing to increase her price to the full asking price, a few thousand pounds above the first time buyer, but the vendor wasn't interested. They simply wanted lower risk for the first time buyer, who had a 40% deposit incidently and is a safe bet.

    Personally, if I was in the market for another property, I would buy now and I'm not just saying that to spin the market up a bit, honestly. The Greek crisis is over for now and the stock market is climbing. Optimisim is starting to return to our economy and more buyers seem to be out there at the moment than usual, though in fairness, it could just be us. I'm not spending any time looking at other stats for around the country, but we only have a couple of dozen properties left to sell, with nearly half our stock currently sold and going through!

    With lower numbers of properties coming onto the market and more buyers out there looking, there is only one thing that will happen, prices increases. This really might be the best year to buy a house in the UK if you can afford one.

    While you say I got lucky because of my age, I bought at the tail end of a crash 4-years after the start of that crash. Well that is exactly where we are with this crash! Sometimes you have to make decissions without following the crowd as I did. If I had followed the crowd and waited for prices to actually start rising, I would have paid more!

    • 17 March 2012 11:27 AM
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    Let's face it Chris, after all is said and done, you were born at the right time to take advantage of one of the biggest transfers of wealth that has taken place in this country, from the housing market have-nots to the housing market haves. No ifs or buts here. If you were ten years younger you could well be as ardent about house prices coming down as you are about Rightmove lowering their fees.

    To your credit, you have played the cards your generation was dealt very well. Unlike other BTLers you are honest too that you are in it for the money. Too many others in your position try to dress up what they're doing as some kind of moral service to younger people. I'll tip my hat to you at least for not going down that route...

    • 16 March 2012 13:50 PM
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    Rant, the Peterborough area has always been affordable because it's population is linked to lower wages of the farming community and call centers etc.

    In addition to this, the Development Corporation doubled the size of the city back in the 1980's with cheap timber-framed houses as an overspill for London. This makes the average house price in this area lower because of the high number of DC properties, but if you look as the standard (Non-DC) properties, prices are comparable with other towns an villages in East Anglia.

    Although You have to be honest that the only reason you are on this site is to talk the market down, so that you can buy a cheap house, making you the biggest VI on the site!

    For me, it is not about spin or vested interests, it is about where the data is being collected and how does RICS know what properties are coming onto the market? It's not their job to monitor this, so how do they know what properties we put on the market last week or the week before? Home.co.uk on the otherhand have collected this information everyday from us for the last 3-years to my knowledge, so I would say that they can be relied upon more than anything RICS says about it.

    Hope your not paying too much in rent these days, but if you are, perhaps your landlord can give you a share in his house one day. Afterall, you have practically bought it for him.

    Oh by the way, I paid off one of my BTL's in November and next May, I'll be paying off another one now that the tenants are really biting into my mortgages with higher rents. At this rate, I will own my whole portfolio by the end of next year and technically could afford to retire at only 48. :-)

    Thanks mainly to high rents and low interest rates of course. One of my BTL mortgages dropped last year to 2% above base rate (Only 2.5%), so have only been been paying £141 per month and the rent is £600 a month!!!
    I love this country sometimes.

    • 16 March 2012 10:48 AM
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    "how can this be true?"

    Practically all the commentary on the housing market is put out by vested interests. The positive spin on these is clear and much of the UK's media is happy to go along; "fall" is the word that cannot be said to describe UK house prices. So it's very easy for Joe Public to have been uninformed even in 07-08.

    Good to see you back though Chris - I notice that the decline in prices in Peterborough is still running ahead of the national average ; )

    • 16 March 2012 08:52 AM
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    "I met some poor guy this morning who had bought in 2008 just before the market tanked. "

    Oh and how can this be true. The peak of the market is officially recognised as September 2007 around the time that all the banks started going down the pan! We had loads of sales crash in Dec 2007 & Jan 2008 as nervious buyers ran away from buying. This poor chap you met must have been asleep or on another planet if he continued with his purchase well into 2008!!!

    • 16 March 2012 02:22 AM
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    Anonymous Coward - It could be worse, flats have been hit the hardest in the crash. If he was holding 100% of the flat (I.e. Not shared ownership) he would be sitting on a much bigger loss than he is now as currently the government has also taken a hit on their share. If he doesn't like the rent they are charging, he could sell the flat (Probably needs a small unsecured loan to clear his negative equity) and walk away. The shared ownership advisor can say what he wants, the Shared Ownership Homebuy Scheme contract clearly states that property prices can rise or fall and outlines the staircase buy-back options available. He is in that mess because he didn't take any notice of the paperwork he signed!

    Rant - What the hell do RICS know about new vendor instructions! They look after the back end of the process, i.e. surveying the properties when they sell.

    Home.co.uk have been around for years pulling data from individual agent websites using metacrawlers. They used to supply Google maps with data so that properties and links back to the agent's websites popped up on Google maps! I would say that they are more reliable than RICS.

    As for the market, we sold 36% of all of our available stock in the month of Feb adding a whopping amount of commission to our sales pipeline. Last time we sold that many properties in one month was early last summer! New instructions were good in January though.

    It's gone a bit quiet on sales this week now though, mainly because we have sold all the good stuff. I would agree that new instructions have slowed down over the last few weeks, but we are still ticking over.

    Green shoots in the economy and all that. With any luck prices will recover again and if stock levels start drying up, lower supply & increasing demand will assist a gentle price recovery. Now is the time to buy me thinks as we have avoided the double dip and this could be the bottom of the property market for years to come! :-)

    • 16 March 2012 02:16 AM
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    This is a complete contradiction to the 12th March headline "Seasonal pick-up in housing market under way"

    EAT - You rock! (you'll also post anything)

    • 15 March 2012 13:52 PM
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    Funny isn’t it, a website / IT thingy company that no ones ever heard of yet has all the data available in the world?

    Anyway, might just be me and as they’ve been good enough to send EAT the worlds shortest and most vague press release lets assume its all top notch info and its right, even though I think instructions are up a smidge or the same as last year at worst.

    It’s the supply and demand thing poking its head up, if my HPC mates are right there are millions of owners out there that will have to sell any minute now, in fact they have been about to sell any minute now since 2007 sometime yet where are they cheeky sods?

    And at the very real risk of banging on about the same thing like that demented old goat we all pick on when he starts here (you know who you are) ill go once more………………………………….we will NOT see a significant drop in prices until such time there is a proper rush of property to the market – 1993 (era) style

    And, while im in a bit of a punchy mood (and it sort of ties in with this) who was that clown that said on here yesterday all the FTB’s that are NOT buying yet and all the renters that are NOT buying yet ARE the market……………come on, own up, where are you? – The market is the people that are in it not the ones looking on from the sidelines so these vendors that haven’t appeared yet are not affecting the market, same as you HPC boys aren’t in it so you aren’t either.


    • 14 March 2012 17:36 PM
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    I met some poor guy this morning who had bought in 2008 just before the market tanked.

    He bought with a shared ownership scheme and is now in negative equity on a £250,000 flat when he has a mortgage of just £100k.

    Shared ownership advisor told him when he bought it that the market could never ever go down!

    Is that Satan I hear, skating to work?

    Worse still, his mortgage and shared ownership rent is nearly 20% more than he would be paying to rent an identical flat in the same building because although his mortgage rate is cheap as chips, the Housing Association has put up his rent by over £300 per month, which is considerably more than private rental prices have gone up in the meantime.

    Poor guy and he is a keyworker, one of those that this type of scheme was set up to help.

    • 14 March 2012 12:40 PM
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    This tallies with my experience, there has been little in the way of new listings for months now. Last year saw quite a flurry but this year, thus far, nada. Seasonal blip perhaps.

    • 14 March 2012 12:18 PM
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    From yesterday's RICS report - the balance of surveyors reporting an increase in new vendor instructions moved from +6 to +9...

    • 14 March 2012 12:14 PM
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    .......and the corporates are putting their fees down......and Rightmove are putting their fees up.................we're all doomed I tell ye we're all doomed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 14 March 2012 08:32 AM
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