73% of properties sold at less than the asking price

Houses for sale

Some 73% of houses were sold in January for less than the asking price, according to a new report by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Estate agents who are members of the NAEA found that buyers are increasingly using their negotiating powers to drive down prices - only 56% of properties went for less than the asking price in January 2014.

The January 2015 Housing Market Report also found that, on average, eight houses were sold per estate agent branch in January, compared to five per branch in December.

But there are also signs the housing market is cooling off, with the number of properties on the market in the January down to 44 per branch, compared to 45 in December and 47 on average in the whole of 2014.

There was also a drop in demand, with the number of potential buyers registered per branch falling from 360 in December to 353 in January. However, this is a similar picture to January 2014, which also saw 353 registered buyers and an average of eight houses sold per branch.

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Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, which represents 13,000 members, said: "The Autumn Statement's stamp duty reforms have already created movement. Following this, sellers may have hiked up prices to take advantage of buyers' increased budgets.

"But it seems buyers are counteracting this by negotiating prices back down to original asking price opposed to paying over the odds for their dream home, creating a real buyers' market. Hopefully, further reforms around the General Election will help to balance the deficit in supply and demand - only time will tell.

"The housing market is based solely on sentiment and so if consumers feel an ounce of uncertainty, this will result in a temporary lull. With the General Election on its way, we're starting to see the different political parties stowing up policies around housing, which is undoubtedly causing uncertainty in the property market."