House prices rise 1.8% as first time buyer mortgage deposit reaches 30%

20 April 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
New sellers on the housing market raised the average asking price by 1.8 per cent in April, according to the latest House Price Index from Rightmove.co.uk, the biggest rise in more than a year.

The rise in the average asking price represents the third consecutive monthly increase; the average asking price is now £3,996 higher than in March, the survey found, indicating that this might be more than a seasonal bounce, and that confidence is returning to the property market, suggesting that it might have bottomed out.

The number of sellers in the market has grown, the survey also revealed, up 13 per cent on March's figures – another signal of returning confidence.

But Rightmove is careful not to get too optimistic about the results, warning that many new sellers are starting too high, and that each month 80,000 are lowering their asking price by two per cent or more.

Rightmove also warns that any signs of recovery for the property market are tempered by the fact that mortgage approvals are still at just a third of what they were when they were at their peak.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove.co.uk, said of the report's findings: "My view is that many sellers are still starting too high, but the fact that they are coming to market in greater numbers and feel they can ask more shows a strengthening in resolve and confidence, which is an encouraging sign.

"It looks like we are now bumping along the bottom of the trough, but for there to be any real sense of optimism that we’re on a sustainable road to recovery, the availability of mortgage finance needs to improve significantly, given that mortgage activity is currently running at around a third of its average levels between 2002 and 2007. Thankfully mortgage lenders are finally starting to release more funds to finance new house purchases."

The latest analysis of the UK's housing market comes at the same time as MoneyExtra.com has found that the average first time buyer mortgage requires an average 30 per cent deposit.

The average loan-to-value (LTV) has hit a two year low, the research found, falling along with the number of mortgages available making it increasingly difficult for potential homeowners to get on the property ladder.

"It's a catch 22 for first time buyers," said Richard Mason, mortgage expert at MoneyExtra.com, "the depressed market means there are bargains to be had but it's difficult to get on the ladder without a good deposit.

"Although there are loans available, on the whole lenders are being very prudent. We need to see some movement here in order to get the housing market moving again. Without plenty of competitive mortgages to choose from things will become even more stagnant," he warned.

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