More properties for sale last month and a rise in asking prices have led to hopes of a spring revival in the housing market. The average asking price went up 2.6% to £235,512 in March, according to the latest Right Move House Price Index.
This increase contrasts sharply with the 0.1% rise the month before, reflecting a very patchy housing market that is struggling to find a consistent and cohesive direction so far this year.
Rightmove says at a macro level, the stock shortages that have underpinned prices are easing slightly, with the current run-rate of properties coming to market now recovering to levels last seen before the Lehman Brothers collapse in September 2008.
On a more local level, estate agents are reporting wide variances in supply-and-demand dynamics between neighbouring patches, and also within property types in the same area. The affluence of purchasers seeking to buy in a particular location remains the decisive factor.
Rightmove commercial director Miles Shipside says: “Rarer property types in desirable locations are achieving record prices. For ‘location, location, location’ you can also read ‘cash, cash, cash’.
“Conversely, in areas where buyers have less access to cash or mortgage finance, or there is an over-supply of a certain property type, then sellers are having to price much more aggressively to secure a sale. There is increasing divergence between these different markets, with agents reporting some pockets where a couple of viewings find a cash-rich buyer, whereas a few miles down the road it’s taking over 20 viewings to achieve a sale”.
The run up to the election appears to be having little effect on the housing market. However, some opinion polls suggest that a hung parliament is still a real possibility, and the uncertainty over who will form the next government may continue for much longer than usual.
“As far as the housing market is concerned, any election result is better than no result. In the event of a hung parliament, the market is likely to go into suspended animation until greater certainty emerges,” says Shipside.