Average price tag on a home ‘falls by nearly £10,000 in just two months’

The average price tag on a home is nearly £10,000 cheaper than it was just two months ago, a report has found.

Across Britain, the typical price of property coming to market fell by 1.5% or £4,496 month on month in December, Rightmove said.

The average asking price now stands at £297,527 – 3.2% or £9,719 less than in October.

Rightmove said it is the biggest fall over two months since 2012, as sellers try to attract buyers against a backdrop of the Christmas slowdown, stretched affordability and political uncertainty.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said now could be a good time for buyers to negotiate a deal.

He said: “The window of maximum buyer negotiating opportunity starts to close from Boxing Day onwards, as more buyers become active in the market.

“From the low point on Christmas Day, the number of pages of property viewed on Rightmove last year more than tripled by the first working day of the new year.

“Home-owners who are thinking of coming to the market early in 2019 should seriously consider doing so as soon as possible to get maximum exposure to the surge in interest from buyers who make it their resolution to move in the new year.”

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

Mr Shipside said it is usual for new-to-the-market sellers to price lower in the run-up to Christmas to tempt distracted buyers.

But he said of the asking price falls seen across November and December: “These falls have been larger than usual, making this the largest fall over two months for six years, showing that there are more than just seasonal forces at play.

“With stretched affordability limiting some people’s ability to buy for the first time or trade up, a modest lowering of property prices combined with an increase in wage growth could help more of them to move and thus increase transaction numbers.”

Rightmove said London, the South East and the East of England are all seeing cheaper new seller asking prices than a year ago.

Asking prices are also down by 0.8% annually in the North East, while in Scotland they have increased by 1.1% annually.

Mr Shipside continued: “The northern regions are keeping the national figure in positive territory as 2018 draws to a close.

“Wales leads the UK’s annual growth with 6.2%, while the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber are all between 4% and 5%.

“We forecast that 2019 will see a similar pattern, with the North still broadly outperforming the South, though our prediction for the year ahead is slightly more muted with the overall national average flat at 0%.”

Rightmove also quoted the views of estate agents.

Peter Woodthorpe, director of Readings in Leicester, said: “Overall our sales have been up this year compared to 2017 and prices have been growing steadily.

“The lack of stock for sale in our area has led to some over-ambitious pricing which is the reason why some properties might be sticking, and it’s why pricing correctly from the start is so critical.

“There’s definitely one or two bargains to be had as is usual at this time of year.”

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said: “The 2019 property market is likely to get off to quite a slow start in the new year while the UK awaits clarity on Brexit negotiations.

“However, despite the market not being as buoyant as it was a few years ago, accurately priced homes will still sell so it is interesting to see signs of vendors starting to recognise this in Rightmove’s latest data.

“Over the last year there has generally been a mismatch between vendor expectations and the price that buyers are prepared to pay, particularly at the top end of the market, so properties launching now at a competitive value will stand out and attract buyers’ interest.

“In my experience the first working day after the new year break is one of the busiest days for property portals, so for those looking for their home to be front and centre of the property parade this is a crucial time for marketing.”