Asking prices for West Midland homes have shot up 4.9 per cent in a month to a new record price, according to the latest housing snapshot.
The West Midlands hit a new peak average asking price of £173,719 this month, up from the previous record of £171,976 regis-tered in December, according to housing website, Rightmove.
The rise represented an increase of £8,000 on last month's figure of £165,626, and was up 11.5 per cent on February 2004's £155,855 asking price.
The monthly increase outpaced the UK as a whole, across which asking prices still rose sharply over the past five weeks - by £4,321 or 2.3 per cent, from £189,509 to £193,830.
The move reversed the downward trend of the previous three months, during which prices had declined by 2.1 per cent or just over £4,000.
After two months of low activity in terms of new instructions, the number of properties coming on to the market has also surged over the last month, as 132,000 homes were listed by estate agents who advertise on Rightmove.co.uk.
"Asking prices have risen this month, as is typical of the last few years, but it's not a typical year that sellers and their estate agents have become accustomed to," said Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove.
The traditional New Year pick up combined with some pent up buyer demand has increased sales of properties from the very low volumes experienced since last summer, Rightmove said.
Time on market has declined slightly, from 87 to 85 days, but remains longer than it was in the summer, when homes were coming off the market in just 53 days.
Similarly, the average number of properties per branch remains historically high, at 63 - down from over 67 in October, but still some 31 per cent up on the level of around 48 this time last year.
Mr Shipside said in this environment of low transaction volumes, agents have a large stock of unsold properties on their books, some at unrealistically high prices. There is still a supply and demand imbalance in favour of the buyer compared to this time last year, with slightly more properties coming on the market than coming off."
He predicted that 2005 transaction volumes could be the lowest since the 1990s.
"The buoyant economy, low unemployment, and historically low interest rates mean most sellers are not forced to reduce prices to sell as they are not facing economic hardship," he said.
"They are shielded from having to slash prices to sell, and can afford to sit and wait to test the market before considering a price reduction or accepting a lower offer."
He said that similarly some buyers are sitting on their hands.
"They are either waiting for prices to drop back substantially to help them afford a better property, or the urgency to buy has been removed by plenty of choice of suitable property being available."