Would-be home buyers frustrated by sold boards

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Would-be home buyers are encountering more "sold" boards slapped on properties than at any other time in the last seven years, a report suggests.

Rightmove said prospective buyers are "seeing a lot of sold boards on properties they would like to buy themselves" - with over 45% of estate agents' property stock now being sold subject to contract.

This is the highest proportion recorded by Rightmove, whose report covers England and Wales, since it started recording the data seven years ago.

Rightmove's findings for July come after the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reported last week that the average number of properties available per agency branch had fallen to an all-time low in June, at just over 42.

Despite continued high demand for properties and a lack of homes to choose from, stretched buyer affordability is acting as a brake on house price growth,  Rightmove said.

In July, the average asking price on a property coming to market across England and Wales edged up by 0.1% or £312 to reach £316,421.

Looking across the country, London saw the biggest month-on-month increase in asking prices, in July, with a 1.1% uplift, followed by the West Midlands which saw a 0.7% increase and Wales, where asking prices increased by 0.6%.

Asking prices in the South West and South East were flat month-on-month, with a 0% change.

The North East saw the biggest month-on-month fall in asking prices, with a 1.3% decline, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber with a 1% fall and the North West and East of England, where prices fell by 0.7%. In the East Midlands, asking prices decreased by 0.4% month-on-month.

Rightmove said the onset of the summer holiday season generally has a dampening effect on both prices and activity.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "Prices are in the summer doldrums. Sellers coming to market at this time of year have to price more keenly as the traditionally bubblier spring selling season is over and prospective buyers are distracted by their own summer holiday plans.

"A year on from the shock referendum result and subsequent dent in activity levels, the fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, low interest rates, strong demand and historic undersupply of homes are mitigating any wobbles in confidence and as a result nearly half the properties on the market, over 45%, have sold signs slapped across them."

Rightmove also quoted the views of Mark Manning, director of Manning Stainton in Leeds, Harrogate, Wetherby and Wakefield.

Mr Manning said: "The market at present is certainly not a one filled with great furore, yet demand still persists particularly for good quality family housing at accessible price points.

"This year so far we have seen a more modest growth in our average sale price across our region with activity on new listings and sales remaining broadly in line with 2016.

"That being said evidence from our network suggests that certain pockets of the market are becoming a little more testing which may indicate some price resistance creeping in as we enter the summer months."