House prices fall but properties fail to sell

21 April 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Once the most popular month for moving house,'s house price survey has found that April is seeing sales fall for the first time since its began monitoring it in 2002.

A record number of homes are failing to find a buyer, and if sellers are lucky enough to find one, then it is taking considerably longer than it did before the credit crunch hit last summer, the survey found.

"The slowdown is a natural market reaction to prices that we knew were overheated, though it has been magnified with the added major complication of the credit crunch." said Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove.

"This reasonable correction in the housing market is in danger of being taken to unreasonable extremes if the freezing of mortgage liquidity continues."

The report found that the average asking price for a property has fallen by 0.1 per cent, so it's a buyers market, providing they have financing in place, because there is more choice and sellers are competing for their attention.

Rightmove's figures highlight the challenges which the housing market currently faces, and reinforces the need for action from the Bank of England to improve affordability and confidence, for buyers, sellers and mortgage lenders alike.

The average level of unsold houses held by each estate agent has risen from 67 per cent to 70 per cent this year, and the average time a property is on the market has risen from 82 to 85 days during the last month, offering buyers the most choice that they have had at their disposal for this time of year since the property market boom, prompting sellers to set their initial asking price competitively and also to be prepared to negotiate.

"Buyers who have saved through the winter and are now emerging to enter the spring market will find there are deals to be had." Mr Shipside continued.

"Our advice is to line up your mortgage in advance, because it is harder and more costly to borrow a high percentage.

"Likewise, sellers would be smart to look for buyers with a short chain, as there is more chance of longer chains falling apart with mortgages more difficult to obtain."

He concluded: "Unless the anticipated steps to be taken by the Bank of England are effective, potential buyers will be impotent to the seduction of lower asking prices, unless they are cash-rich."

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