Rising property asking prices reflect 'renewed optimism and positive sentiment' in the market

Average new seller asking prices have risen by 0.9% (+£3,091) this month to £362,839, reveals Rightmove’s latest house price index.

The annual price change moves tentatively back into positive territory after six months of annual price falls, with prices up by 0.1% on a year ago.

Agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 are 16% higher than over the same period last year, and 3% higher than in the more normal market of 2019, indicating that many early-bird buyers feel that 2024 offers the right conditions to move.

The growing market momentum is also evidenced by the increase in activity of both buyers and sellers on Rightmove, with 7% more new listings coming to market than last year, and a 7% upturn in the number of buyers enquiring.

However, it’s taking more than two weeks longer to find a buyer than at this time last year, with the average time to sell at its slowest since 2015, excluding the initial pandemic lockdown months of April & May 2020.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director for property science, commented: “There continue to be reasons for cautious optimism as we settle into 2024, with encouraging activity levels and a more stable housing market.

“While some would-be buyers will continue to be affected by elevated mortgage rates and major affordability constraints, many other prospective buyers who can afford to do so, have acted fast and demonstrated their belief that 2024 is their year to get moving.

“With the Budget up next, the government will be considering a range of options to support movers and we expect to hear more policy rumours as the date approaches.

“Rightmove’s data shows that it’s the first time-buyer segment who could use the most support this spring, and well-thought-out initiatives to help to get more would-be first-time buyers onto the ladder would be welcome.”

Michelle Niziol, CEO at IMS Property Group, said: “It’s been a positive start to the year, particularly when compared to the slower pace of this time last year.

“There’s a sense of optimism, helped hugely by mortgage rates dropping in recent months, which now seem to have settled and remained stable, giving prospective buyers assurance and confidence. 

“With lower mortgage rates on offer and more properties for sale, now is a good opportunity for any would-be buyers out there.”

Kate Eales, deputy head of residential at Strutt & Parker, added: “The start of this year has seen renewed optimism and positive sentiment in the wake of a further pause in interest rates and January inflation held at 4%.

“Optimism breeds confidence, and confidence is translating into more sellers and buyers coming into the market.

“Activity is trending upwards compared to this time last year, which is encouraging, but the market remains price sensitive.

“Motivated sellers need to be realistic with listing prices and take advice on how to effectively position their sale in the current market. 

“Buyer’s budgets are still being largely constrained by expensive mortgage products, so it’s a careful balance.”

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