Property website warns buyers not to be too optimistic, with sales down 5.5% and average time taken to sell homes lengthening significantly
The average price of a property coming on to the market in January is up by nearly £2,000 compared with December, but sales are down by 5.5% on the same period a year ago.
Rightmove, which tracks 90% of the UK property market, said there had been a “busy start” to 2018, with more than 4m visits a day to its site, up nearly a tenth on last year. The average price was up 0.7% to £297,587.
But sellers may be being over-optimistic in their pricing and may have to reduce to find buyers. Rightmove said the average time to sell a property has jumped to 67 days compared to 55 days last summer.
The period from now to late spring is traditionally the busiest time of the year for househunters as they aim to complete transactions and then move during the summer school holidays. But Rightmove said the pace of activity had slowed.
Asking prices continue to fall in London. The average price for a home listed by the website in the capital is currently £600,926, down 1.4% on the month and 3.4% over the year.
With affordability stretched and incomes falling behind inflation, most property forecasters are predicting flat house prices in 2018 or relatively small rises.
Of the two big lenders that operate well-known price indices, Nationwide said it expected property values to be “broadly flat in 2018, with perhaps a marginal gain of around 1%”. Halifax allowed itself some wiggle room, predicting UK growth from 0% to 3%.
Halifax said that in December house prices fell by 0.6%, the first decline it had registered in six months.