Asking prices up in 'seller rush'

Property asking prices lifted to a new record high of nearly £256,000 in March amid a "spring seller rush", a website has reported.

Rightmove said the average asking price across England and Wales rose to £255,962
Rightmove said the average asking price across England and Wales rose to £255,962

Rightmove said the average asking price across England and Wales lifted by 1.6% month-on-month to £255,962, surpassing a peak set last July by £2,304.

A new record was also set in London, where average asking prices have reached £552,530, which is £8,298 above the capital's previous high reached last October.

Across England and Wales, sellers' asking prices are now 6.8% or £16,251 higher than they were a year ago and in London they have seen annual growth of 11.3% according to the website, whose records go back to 2002.

But Rightmove said that the South West and the South East, both of which had been affected by the recent severe flooding, "lag behind the spring seller rush".

The North was the only region where sellers' asking prices were down year-on-year, with a 0.3% annual fall taking them to £145,861 on average.

House sellers in Wales were asking 4.6% more for their properties than a year ago, at around £171,359.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "With prices on the up and set to increase more, there is a greater sense of urgency among buyers."

Rightmove is also seeing evidence that house price growth in London is no longer being driven by the wealthy "prime central" boroughs.

London's worst-performing borough in March was named as Kensington and Chelsea, where asking prices had dropped by 2.4% on the previous month.

But the average price tag for a home in the borough was still £2.1 million.

The English capital's best-performing borough was found to be Haringey, where prices had surged by 9.5% month-on-month to reach £597,634 typically.

Westminster and Camden, where average asking prices were above £1 million, were also among Rightmove's worst-performing areas in London in March, while Barnet and Hounslow, where prices were around £600,000-plus, were among the best.

Prime central London has been a particular attraction in recent years for wealthy overseas investors looking for a "safe haven" for their cash.

Mr Shipside said the "slack" caused by prime London's slowdown had been taken up by other London boroughs and surrounding areas of the South.

He said: "While London's top-end locations remain sought after and highly-valued, the slow-down in the pace of their rises was bound to happen after some heady increases."

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said it was seeing evidence that the surge in demand from potential buyers which had been seen over the last year was starting to slow down.

Government schemes such as Help to Buy had made it easier for credit-worthy people to access a low deposit mortgage, many of whom might have been previously struggling to do this in the financial downturn.

But a lack of homes for buyers to choose from has been blamed for pushing up prices strongly in some areas.

Rightmove said it was seeing signs that more home owners were being encouraged to come to market as prices rose.

A total of 114,996 new properties were advertised on Rightmove in the last four weeks, a figure which was up by 8.7% on the same period last year.

Rightmove said that only the South East and South West had not seen substantial jumps in the numbers of properties coming to market on a year ago, with increases of 1.3% and 2.3% respectively in the volume of new sellers.

Average Asking prices in the South West had climbed 1.9% higher than last year to £258,799, while in the South East they had lifted by 5.3% to reach £325,716.

Mr Shipside continued: "There is a definite spring seller rush in all regions bar the flood-hit South East and South West...

"The greater choice available to buyers will hopefully mitigate the upwards price pressure that some sellers have been able to exert."