Asking prices remain flat for February

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

The usual seasonal bounce didn’t happen this month, as sellers become more realistic on pricing

Average asking prices remain flat in February, rising by just £14 (+0.0%), said Rightmove.

This is the smallest ever increase from January to February recorded by the property portal, which said it was ‘a sign that more sellers are heeding their agents’ advice to price right first time’.

Over the year, asking prices are up 3.9% – down from 6.3% last month.

Sales boost

Sales agreed continue to rebound, although they are still 11% down on 2019’s levels, an improvemnet from the 30% fall in the aftermath of the mini-budget.

Average rates for a 15% deposit five-year fixed mortgage are now 4.82%, down from October’s 5.90%
While there is still an overall shortage of property for sale, down by 24% compared to 2019, there is more choice for buyers than a year ago, giving prospective buyers confidence for their onward move.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, said: “The big question this month was whether we would see new sellers increasing their asking prices as has been the yearly norm as we approach the spring selling season. This month’s flat average asking price indicates that many sellers are breaking with tradition and showing unseasonal initial pricing restraint.

“In addition to market conditions demanding greater realism on price, we are transitioning into a slower paced market, where buyers will take longer to find the right property at the right price due to the higher cost of servicing a mortgage.”

Mortgage rates edge down

Average mortgage rates have edged downwards after the turbulent months immediately following the mini-budget, said Rightmove.

The latest data shows that someone looking to take out a five-year fixed mortgage with a 15% deposit would now be looking at an average rate of 4.82%, compared with 5.90% in October.

There is still an overall shortage of property for sale, with available properties to buy down by 24% compared to 2019, but choice is improving. The number of available homes for sale is up by 48% on the record low levels of last year.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Realism has engulfed the property market, but pessimism is being kept at bay by lower mortgage rates.

“Sellers are keeping a lid on asking prices. Usually at this time of year they’re gearing up for the spring selling season with punchy pricing. This year they’re well aware that over-pricing at this stage will mean they could miss out on the spring rush, and face cutting their prices as the market slows in the summer.

“Meanwhile, the number of people getting in touch with estate agents has risen, as falling mortgage rates are convincing more of them that it might be time to dip their toe back into the market.”