House sellers becoming more realistic on pricing, survey suggests

House sellers are showing signs of becoming more realistic in their pricing, according to surveyors.

More than six in 10 (62%) surveyors said that, for homes listed for sale at up to £500,000, the prices being paid by buyers are in line with sellers’ asking prices.

This proportion has increased from 57% in October, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Rics also said the volume of fresh properties coming on to the market is at its weakest since June 2016, giving buyers a limited choice.

An overall net balance of 23% of surveyors reported house prices falling rather than increasing in April, with prices particularly under downward pressure in London and the South East and also falling in the South West.

Northern Ireland and Scotland continue to buck the trend, with surveyors reporting a further rise in prices, Rics said.

Near-term sales expectations remain negative and expectations still point to a flat or declining sales trend across all parts of the UK in the coming three months, according to the report.

Further out, a net balance of 13% of surveyors anticipate sales will start to pick up to some extent over the next 12 months.

The findings were released as a separate report from Rightmove said more than a quarter (28%) of properties for sale on the website have been listed for longer than six months, down from 40% in 2012.

Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside said: “If you’ve failed to find a buyer after several months of marketing, then it could be that overall demand in your area is low due to local market conditions.

“However, if some properties are selling and yours is not, then you either have a property with limited appeal or the price is too high. If you’re unlucky it could be both.”

Meanwhile in the rental sector there are indications of declining activity among landlords, following tax changes affecting their profits.

Rics said the number of fresh rental properties coming to market continues to dwindle, extending a run of successive quarterly declines dating back to the middle of 2016 – marking the longest uninterrupted sequence of falling landlord instructions since records started in 1998.

Anecdotal evidence signals little chance of a turnaround, Rics said, with comments suggesting the upcoming lettings fee ban could lead to more landlords exiting the market.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “Although there are signs of greater realism on pricing from vendors, there is little conviction in the feedback from respondents to the survey that activity in the housing market will pick up any time soon.

“Significantly, the key Rics buyer inquiries indicator remains subdued and sales expectations looking a year out are only modestly positive.”

Rightmove’s tips for selling a home:
1. Properties often receive 70% of their interest in the first two weeks. Great listings have at least five photos, a floor plan and a well-crafted description aimed at a clear target audience
2. Give your home kerb appeal – which could include painting the front door, tidying the garden and getting out the hanging baskets
3. Buyers need to picture themselves living in your property so de-clutter and try to make the home neutral
4. Keep pets out of the way during viewings and evidence of pets such as cat litter trays
5. The price you ask can affect the speed at which you sell. If you do your research, price competitively and are braced for a negotiation, the odds of selling are more likely to be in your favour