1% drop in house prices marks 16th fall in a row

26 January 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent
House prices fell by one per cent in January, representing the 16th consecutive monthly price drop, new figures from property consultants Hometrack have revealed.

The survey, which is based upon 5,800 responses from 1,802 agents and surveyors across the UK, also found that in the 12 months up to January 2009, house prices fell by 9.4 per cent.

And, the proportion of asking price being achieved remaining below 90 per cent – 88.3 per cent compared to 93.5 per cent a year ago – and the average time a property spends on the market rising, suggest that house prices will continue to fall throughout 2009, according to Hometrack.

However, the housing survey also found that some agents were reporting an increase in buyer interest while re-pricing takes place, as agents reported price falls across 58 per cent of the market.

Commenting on the results, Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, comments: "While the re-pricing process in the housing market has been underway for the last year, the reality is that over 2009 the market is at the mercy of the economy.

"Purchasers remain few in number and cautious – some agents have reported potential buyers extending rental contracts for another six months to sit out the current uncertainty."

Speaking of reports from a few agents who report that buyer interest is on the up, Mr Donnell added: "As prices continue to fall there have been reports of a modest pick up in buyer interest with bargain hunters looking for deals and window shoppers assessing prices and what's on offer in their local markets."

However, he added that "While any sign of a pick up in activity will be welcome news for agents it would be dangerous to read too much into this."

The Government has so far announced two sets of measures in attempts to boost lending between banks, which should ease the mortgage market, but as yet these have failed to filter through enough to make a significant difference.

Commenting on the outlook for 2009, Mr Donnell said: "The short term prospects for the economy and levels of unemployment are at the forefront of most consumers' minds and these will be key to the performance of the housing market over 2009.

"Any improvement in sales volumes is dependant upon the outlook for the economy, unemployment and the availability of mortgage finance – all of which are areas of great uncertainty."

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