House sellers put off by ‘lacklustre price growth’, says Rightmove

The number of new house sellers coming to market is shrinking at the fastest rate in a decade, according to a property website.

Sellers are being deterred by “lacklustre price growth” amid ongoing political uncertainty according to Rightmove, which said the average price tag on a property fell by nearly £4,000 in November compared with October.

But for some buyers, now could be the chance to grab a winter bargain, the website said.

Rightmove house price index
Rightmove’s house price index shows average asking prices across Britain (Rightmove/PA)

There were 14.9% fewer new properties coming to market in November than a year ago, in what was the largest year-on-year slump in any month since August 2009, Rightmove said.

Despite the fall in sellers, the number of property transactions taking place remains resilient, with sales agreed down by just 2.9% compared with a year ago.

Across Britain, the average house seller’s asking price in November was £302,808 – down by 1.3% or £3,904 month-on-month.

While asking prices often drift downwards as the weather gets colder, would-be sellers are also faced with the uncertain outcomes of a general election and Brexit, Rightmove said.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: “Elections normally dampen activity as uncertainty causes a degree of hesitation, but this one is being called to try to break the deadlock after three years of uncertainty.

“A more certain outlook, whatever it may be, would be a welcome change for those who are contemplating moving.”

Mr Shipside continued: “Our monthly poll of the housing market shows a clear swing towards hesitation for prospective sellers, leading to buyers losing the extra choice that thousands more newly-marketed properties would bring.

“In spite of this, buyers are continuing with their purchasing plans, with the number of sales agreed only marginally down on a year ago.

“Many buyers are getting on with their lives and making the most of the better negotiating opportunities that the distractions of electioneering and the seasonal slowdown in the run-up to Christmas can bring.”

Rightmove’s report also quoted the views of estate agents.

Louis Harding, head of London residential sales at Strutt and Parker, said: “The biggest challenge the London market faces is stock availability and consumer confidence has played a big part in contemplating whether to sell in the current climate.

“Brexit and its shifting deadlines has created uncertainty and this is further fuelled by the upcoming election.

“Having said all of that, best-in-class properties are in demand and there is significant competition amongst the buyers who are active.”

Martin Platt, director at Paul Rolfe estate agents in Stirling and Linlithgow, said: “The Brexit uncertainty doesn’t seem to have affected sales in our area of Scotland this year, as we’ve already agreed the same number of sales so far this year as we did for the whole of 2018.

“New stock remains tight but no worse than last year, and the properties that are selling the best are at the top of the ladder, four and five-bed family homes up to £450,000.”

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