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Asking Prices Hit an All Time High

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There may not be many houses for sale and many would-be buyers are still struggling to secure a mortgage, but according to the estate agents’ website, Rightmove, asking prices have now hit an all time high.  Average asking prices rose by 2.9% between March and April 2012, to £243,737, £1,327 more than the last peak in May 2008.

However, when these figures are looked at a little more closely, it becomes clear that London is distorting the national average with its constantly buoyant housing trade.  Since the last peak four years ago, asking prices in London have gone up by a tasty 14.9%, when most other regions have seen a fall.  In fact the only other region that has seen a rise in asking prices, in that four year period, is the south west – a much more modest 2.3%.  Prices in East Anglia and the south east are roughly at the same level as they were four years ago.

Commenting on the figures, Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove said: “It has taken four years for new sellers to pitch their asking prices above their previous record.  However, this is not a universal signal of a housing market recovery.  The richest seams of housing market activity are concentrated around those with access to cash and finance, with a strong bias to the south and London in particular.  It’s a somewhat perverse state of affairs for many of the mass-market not deemed as mortgage-worthy by the lenders that, at a time when many aspiring buyers are excluded, the national average price of property coming to the market is at an all-time high.”

The biggest fall in asking prices is concentrated in the north of England and in Wales.  Wales, Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands have fallen by 12.3%, 11.6% and 10.3% respectively.  The data also shows that fewer houses are coming to market; nationally, 30% fewer houses were put up for sale in April 2012, than in April 2007.

The asking price split of the country continues to widen; those in the south where owners have seen the steepest rises have extra equity and therefore access to the best mortgage deals.  This means that local market conditions remain buoyant, despite tough economic conditions.  The reverse is happening in areas that have experienced falls.

Sources: thisismoney.co.uk, rightmove.co.uk (image courtesy of news.sky.com)