House asking prices to increase in 2017 after 2% fall in December


The average price of a home in England and Wales will continue to head upwards during next year, although the pace of growth will be weaker than it is now, a property website predicts.

Rightmove expects home sellers' asking prices to increase by 2% across 2017, slightly lower than the current annual pace of growth in asking prices, at 3.4%.

The website made the prediction as it said asking prices fell back below the £300,000 mark in December. Asking prices fell by 2.1% or £6,511 month-on-month, taking the average asking price to £299,159 in December, from £305,670 on November.

Rightmove said the monthly fall is exactly in line with the pattern seen for the past six years, as Christmas approaches.

If asking prices do continue to increase during next year, it would mark the seventh year in a row of rising property prices, Rightmove said.

While Rightmove expects asking prices to generally head upwards next year, it predicts that inner London will see asking prices fall by 5% in 2017 "as its price bubble continues to deflate".

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said that generally "for the time being" any nervousness about Brexit is being over-ridden by high demand for the short supply of suitable homes for sale in the lower and middle market in many parts of the country.

Rightmove said the supply of homes remains tight compared with a year ago, in terms of new-to-the-market listings and available stock for sale. It said fresh supply is little-changed, being only 2% above last year and failing to keep pace with and replace the 5.2% increase in sales agreed.

It said visits to its website, which indicate the need for housing and the desire to move, were up by 9% last month compared with the same period a year earlier, with 110 million visits recorded.

Mr Shipside said: "Demand from first-time buyers looking to buy rather than rent will continue, fuelled by monthly mortgage repayments being cheaper than rent, and rents forecast to rise further.

"Second-steppers' family needs for more space and the right school catchment areas will help that sector, especially as their ability to trade up is assisted by lenders keen to attract their quality business. The upper end of the market, where transactions are often more discretionary, will still hang back as the cost of trading up is often a big jump for less perceived gain than in cheaper sectors."

Rightmove also quoted the views of estate agents.

Kevin Shaw, national sales director at Leaders, said: "We expect prices and transaction levels to remain broadly similar to 2016, but with a significant surge in activity at the start of the year. Despite the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, people are keen to get on with their home-moving plans and the New Year will be a prime opportunity to do so."

Patrick McCutcheon, head of residential at Dacre, Son and Hartley, said: "We've had a strong finish to 2016 in Yorkshire with available property stock around 80% of the January 2014 figure, yet buyer demand remains consistently strong, especially in the core family sector."