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The average price of a property coming on to the market in January is up by nearly £2,000 compared with December, but sales are down by 5.5 per cent on the same period a year ago.

This is according to Rightmove, which tracks 90 per cent of the UK property market.

Rightmove reported there had been a “busy start” to 2018, with more than 4 million visits a day to its site, up nearly a tenth on last year.

The annual rate of price increase in newly-marketed property is 1.1 per cent, although at a more local level prices are running 4 to 6 per cent up in some regions, with only London (minus 3.5 per cent) recording a year-on-year fall.

But sellers may be being over-optimistic in their pricing and may have to reduce the price tag for their property in order to find buyers.

Rightmove reported the average time to sell a property has jumped to 67 days compared to 55 days last summer.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “Considering some of the gales that buffeted the market in the latter part of 2017, these early readings for 2018 show that there is currently a good following wind of search activity.

“To keep this year’s initial buyer momentum with you rather than against, serious sellers should note that all regions are currently selling at a slower rate than a year ago, indicating choosier buyers.

“The total number of sales agreed was 5.5 per cent down in the last quarter of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.

“Setting tempting asking prices and then quickly reducing them if there is little initial interest will be key to turning this promising level of buyer activity into actual sales, especially in the less active sectors and locations of the UK.”

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “Despite continued year-on-year house price growth, 2018 is off to a realistic start.

“House price growth is now far more in line with inflation than in previous years, and couple this with competitive mortgage rates and a stamp duty exemption, first-time buyers should find it that little bit easier to get on the property ladder.

“Whilst we expect to see house price inflation remain at their current steady levels, we encourage would-be buyers to speak with a mortgage broker, who will be able to provide them with a better understanding of the thousands of products on the market and help them find the best product to suit their needs.”

Source: FT Adviser

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