House sellers' asking prices jumped by £4,500 on average in March - report

House sellers' average asking prices jumped by just over £4,500 in March, as strong interest from home movers since the start of 2018 pushes up the amounts being demanded, a property website has found.

The average asking price across Britain stood at £304,504 in March - an increase of 1.5% or £4,503 compared with February, Rightmove said.

Some parts of the country saw new asking price records set in March.

The average price of newly-marketed property has hit all-time highs in both the East (£217,952) and West Midlands (£219,941), and also in Wales (£187,739) and the North West (£189,900).

Rightmove house price index
Rightmove house price index

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "Many buyers entering the traditionally busy spring market this year face paying more than ever for their target property, and having a more limited choice."

High demand and limited supply in parts of the country mean that the average price of newly-marketed property is at its highest ever level in four out of 11 regions.

The average price tags on typical first-time and second-time buyer homes also hit new highs - of £189,840 and £272,031 respectively.

First-time-buyer properties are defined by the study as having two bedrooms or fewer while homes targeted by people taking their second step on the property ladder have three or four bedrooms, excluding four-bedroom detached properties.

Mr Shipside suggested the upwards price pressure is being partly driven by first-time buyers benefiting from recently-introduced stamp duty relief, who are keen to purchase before the savings they are making are swallowed up by price rises.

There is also a sense of urgency to buy amid speculation that another interest rate rise from the Bank of England is on the cards soon, he said, adding: "Buyers who apply for a mortgage before interest rates rise should be able to borrow more cheaply."

Mr Shipside said there is "upwards price pressure in the lower and middle market sectors with both first-time buyer and second-stepper properties at new national record price highs".

He added: "The first two months of 2018 saw Rightmove traffic at its highest ever levels, and this demand appears to be now feeding through to fuel the substantial £4,503 jump in average new seller asking prices this month."

Mr Shipside said that while there is "potential price headroom" in parts of the country, such as in northern regions and in the more mass market sectors where demand is strong, sellers need to bear in mind that the more they increase their prices, the more buyers will hit their ceiling of what they can afford to pay.

He said: "Sooner or later higher prices tend to mean fewer people can afford to move."

Price rises are in part being driven by a decrease in supply as the market enters a traditionally busy phase, the study said.

Rightmove measured 112,693 properties coming to market in the last four weeks, down by 5.2% on the same period a year ago.

It said some of this decrease will be due to the heavy snow delaying some agents and sellers from bringing properties to market.