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Home-movers warned to act now to move by Christmas

Average asking prices of newly-marketed property show a fall of 2.3% in August as new sellers launch a ‘late summer sale’, according to Rightmove.

Slightly bigger than the drop last year, this decrease likely stems from the more subdued market in London and the South East. With the two regions excluded, the rest of the country would have a monthly drop of 1.5%.

“Sellers who come to market in the peak holiday month often have a pressing need to sell and price down accordingly, and are offering ‘summer sale’ prices to entice holiday-distracted buyers,” said Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at Rightmove.

He said that since the market started its most recent ‘cyclical rice upturn’ in 2010, the average price of property coming to market has gone up by 32%, effectively stretching buyer affordability. This has lead to more substantial discounts required to tempt warier buyers, with high prices also making lenders more cautious.

“With lacklustre average wage growth, more buyers are bumping up against the tighter lending criteria brought in four years ago following the Mortgage Market Review, which were intended to prevent another boom-and-bust cycle,” he added.

What’s more, year-on-year figures show that new seller asking prices are muted at 1.1% higher than a year ago, helping buyer affordability. Sales agreed numbers, meanwhile, are down by 0.8% compared to this time last year, steadily improving compared to their position earlier in the year.

Shipside continued: “The ‘beast from the east’ weather was a factor in sales agreed numbers being down by 5.4% year-to-date back in May, but they are on an upward trajectory and are now 3.5% down year-to-date.”

“Overall, in spite of political uncertainty, sales agreed are holding pretty steady and it is usual for there to be an upturn in prices and buyer activity as we head into the Autumn season, especially if sellers maintain their cheaper pricing to attract buyers.”

Any sellers who are in a hurry to find a buyer – perhaps with a pre-Christmas move in mind – should note that buyers have more choice this month compared to July, with total available stock being up 2.1%.

The average time to sell between first marketing on Rightmove and being marked as sale agreed has increased by 3% to just over eight weeks. After this, it takes an average of 13 weeks to complete the legal transaction.

With 17 weeks until Christmas, prospective buyers only have a few weeks left. However, anyone that has to sell before they can buy will either need to find a buyer much quicker than the average eight weeks or face a tighter-than-usual timescale for legal completion.

According to Shipside, sellers and their agents who are pricing very attractively in order to beat the averages should also ensure that both the seller and their buyer have the necessary financial and legal preparation in place, as this can lead to mortgage or cash availability hold-ups.

“Sale-ready sellers and the correct choice of a well-prepared buyer with a short or sound chain can still bring the turkey to their table in your new home in time for Christmas,” he concluded.

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