Market could have bottomed last winter, says Rightmove

Today's Rightmove figures on asking prices suggest a market which is unpredictable.

The company says it cannot be absolutely sure if prices have reached bottom, have further to fall or will rise.

While it has plumped for a 'steady' market in which nothing changes in the second half of this year, it also admits that the current 'green shoots' could be a false bounce, with prices falling a further 10% this year.

But it also says that a resurgence could see asking prices rising by a total of 12% this year.

Asking prices have risen this month by just 0.6% over June, by 3.1% since this time a year ago, and by 6.7% since the start of 2009. But the difference between asking prices and the reality of sales prices is pronounced.

Rightmove says that in July, the average asking price is nearly £228,000. By contrast, in June, Halifax and Nationwide both reported actual sales prices of around £157,000.

Rightmove says today that, with hindsight, the best property bargains were in the second half of last year.

Its report also talks about a 50-year low in transactions. It adds that as in most market corrections, there was a price undershoot that appears to have rectified itself this spring, with average rises of circa 1% a month.

Miles Shipside, commercial director at Rightmove, said: "There is now clear evidence that there were some fire-sale prices last winter, when a few brave buyers correctly called the bottom of the market.

"In most parts of the country, prices have consistently improved during spring. With growing confidence that we've passed the bottom, buyers are more active, although they may discover that many of the best buys have gone."

He said that buyer activity remains strong, with traffic on Rightmove's website remaining much higher than expected during June and July which are typically quieter months.

He added: "Last year traffic peaked in March, then reduced significantly as summer approached. However, in 2009, the tail-off has been almost non-existent. This year the number of pages viewed remains at 97% of its spring high, compared to 79% in 2008. Indeed, some agents are reporting some of their best weeks' sales so far this year."

Rightmove also reports that the number of new sellers is the highest so far this year, at 21,364 a week. While this is still well below the historic norm of circa 35,000, it represents a 20% increase in sellers.

Shipside warned that there is a continuing overhang of stale property on agents' books.


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