House buyers face record average asking prices

But the pace of price rises is slowing...


House sellers' asking prices hit a new record high of more than £313,000 on average in April, according to a property website.

Across England and Wales, the average price tag on a property being put on the market increased by £3,547 or 1.1% month-on-month - to reach £313,655.

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The figures were released by Rightmove, whose records go back to 2002.

It said the average asking price in April surpasses a previous high of £310,471 reached in June 2016.

Strong numbers of house sales being agreed - at levels not seen since before the credit crunch - have helped to keep pushing asking prices upwards, Rightmove said.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said there are signs of a "strong spring market", which should help to offset any jitters in the market ahead of the general election on June 8.

The first-time buyer sector of the market is driving the price increases, Rightmove said.

Asking prices in this market are up by 6.5% year-on-year, with the typical price tag on a first-time property - one with up to two bedrooms - now standing at a record high of £194,881.

Across all sectors, asking prices are up by 2.2% year-on-year across England and Wales.

Rightmove said the annual pace of asking price growth generally has slowed, and is now at its lowest for four years, since April 2013.

London and the north east of England are the only regions in the study where average asking prices are lower than a year ago.

In London, asking prices are down by 1.5% annually, at £636,777 on average.

In the North East, asking prices have dipped by 0.7% annually and now stand at an average of £150,350.

The East of England has seen the strongest growth in asking prices over the last year, with a 5.3% uplift taking the average property price tag there to £349,269.

The West Midlands has seen the next strongest asking price growth, with a 5% increase pushing average prices to £215,784.

In Wales, asking prices are up by 4% year-on-year to reach £186,172 on average.

Mr Shipside said the number of sales being agreed is the highest for this time of year since 2007.

This time last year, the number of sales being agreed dropped off as a stamp duty hike for people buying second homes, including buy-to-let investors, came into force on April 1 2016.

Mr Shipside said: "Strong buyer activity this month has led to 10% higher numbers of sales agreed than in the same period in 2016.

"This large year-on-year disparity should be viewed cautiously as the comparable timespan in 2016 saw a drop in buy-to-let activity with the additional second home stamp duty."

But he said sales agreed figures are also up by 3.8% when compared with two years ago.

Mr Shipside continued: "With the growth in household numbers and new-build supply struggling to keep pace, demand is strong and has led to the highest sales agreed numbers at this time of year since the heady pre-credit crunch levels."

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