Tuesday, April 26, 2005

House prices down again

House Prices Down Again In April

House prices have fallen for the tenth consecutive month, according to Hometrack's survey for April...
It's not all bad news, however, as the drop in prices in April was only -0.1 per cent, and the last four months have seen reducing price falls, which Hometrack interprets as a suggestion that the market is stabilising.
The average house price is now £162,100, down from a peak of £167,700 in June last year.
Buyers BackIn contrast to lacklustre price changes, activity increased again this month, with sales agreed up by 9.4 per cent !16.5 per cent in March's survey).
This, says Hometrack, is partly due to ongoing increase in the number of buyers registering with estate agents, which has risen since the beginning of the year by 27.3 per cent.
However, even though buyers have been returning to the market, there is still a backlog of properties on agents' books and this means that buyers are still in a strong position: as a consequence, April's average sales price as a percentage of asking price decreased slightly to 93.3 per cent (93.4 per cent in March's survey).
The length of time it takes to sell a property was unchanged, staying stable at 7.4 weeks. The average number of viewings per sale was down to 12.4 (13.2 in March), suggesting that buyers are not holding back as they had done previously, according to Hometrack.
27 counties have seen price rises or remained stable in April, with 31 having seen a decline. At the top end of the scale were Central London & City and West Midlands (0.6 per cent), Dorset (0.5 per cent), London-North and Wiltshire (0.3 per cent).
The largest falls were in Bedfordshire (-0.7 per cent), Gloucestershire (-0.5 per cent), and Surrey, Oxfordshire and London-East (all at -0.4 per cent).
Election JittersJohn Wriglesworth, Hometrack's Housing Economist, comments: "The forthcoming election, a change of pope and a newly married heir to the throne have done nothing to improve the housing market which remains in the doldrums. Despite buyers returning to the market, there continues to be an excess supply of unsold properties.
"Election jitters are not helping, but this is only temporary. Post election, whichever party wins, there is likely to be a bounce back in the market, as the economic and political prospects become more certain, thus encouraging consumer confidence to return.
"Interest rates, which may rise after the election, are expected to remain historically low, as with unemployment, despite Rover's collapse. Mortgages are still very affordable, and incomes are continually rising.
"There are no fundamental reasons why the market should not recover, confidence is the key. We continue to predict three per cent house price inflation for the year.
"The Conservative party's announcement of their intention to scrap stamp duty below £250,000 is helpful but not significant. It will only take one per cent off house prices, which in the context of rises of nearly 100 per cent over the last five years, is akin to taking a snowflake off an iceberg. However, for first-time buyers particularly, it is a good psychological boost so is to be commended."

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