Asking prices for property have climbed to an all-time record high.
The Rightmove portal reported this morning an astonishing 2.9% monthly rise in asking prices for properties new to the market over the last month, bringing the average asking price to a record £243,737.
The value is miles apart from actual selling prices recorded by the Land Registry and from mortgage approvals data.
Halifax, for example, is quoting £163,803 as its current sales price.
The previous record asking price was last set nearly four years ago in May 2008. However, today’s Rightmove price exceeds that by 0.5%.
Whether hopeful sellers and their agents will actually achieve anywhere near what they want is open to question – especially outside London.
Today’s Rightmove report makes it clear that it is London asking prices that have boosted the national picture. Rightmove itself says London prices have acted as a crutch.
Asking prices in London have soared 14.9% since the last national peak in May 2008, and now stand at £464,944 compared with the previous peak of £455,159.
But average asking prices in the rest of the country have actually fallen by 4.3% over the same period.
Even outside London it is a patchy regional picture and asking prices in the South-East and East Anglia are today respectively 0.3% and 1.1% off their old record highs, but in some regions (the Midlands for example), prices are still 10% below peak. In the South-West, however, asking prices are now averaging £270,735 – ahead of the previous peak of £264,608.
Rightmove also insists that the new national record should be compared with retail price inflation.
This stands at 11.5% since May 2008, meaning that national average asking prices for property are down in real terms by 9.9% over the same period.
Rightmove says that had property asking prices kept up with inflation, they would now be at £270,459 rather than £243,737.
The rate of the monthly rise is also interesting: at 2.9%, it is the highest since April 2007, five months before the run on Northern Rock.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “From a national perspective, it has taken four years for new sellers to pitch their asking prices above their previous record. However, this is not a universal signal of a housing market recovery.
“The richest seams of housing market activity are concentrated around those with access to cash and finance, with a strong bias to the South and London in particular. Even within regions there are micro-market hotspots where demand from those that can buy and the confidence and momentum it engenders are helping to push asking prices to new record highs”
“It’s a somewhat perverse state of affairs for many of the mass-market not deemed as mortgage-worthy by the lenders that, at a time when many aspiring buyers are excluded, the average price of property coming to the market is at an all-time high.”
He added: “Fresh property stock is a bit scarcer this April compared to last, and this is a key factor in providing a price floor for spring prices to springboard from. This is the strongest price-bounce Rightmove has ever recorded for the first four months of the year.”