There appeared to be a glimmer of light in the Midlands housing market after the latest figures suggested a rise in prices over the last month – with the biggest hike in the West Midlands.
According to property website Rightmove, values in the region rose by 2.8 per cent, more than the South-east where prices increased by 2.6 per cent.
However, despite house prices rising by an average of one per cent across the country, the website warned that many people were failing to price realistically and were tempted to think that their own home was more desirable than others on the market.
House prices have still fallen by 4.9 per cent during the year to mid-October, the biggest drop ever recorded by Rightmove. It added that estate agents were also competing for the few homes that were being put up for sale, on the off-chance that they could make a sale and boost their revenues before Christmas.
Miles Shipside, commercial director at Rightmove, said: “Any potential buyer will drive a hard bargain, so the temptation for sellers to price up and negotiate later may seem like a good idea.”
But he warned that as unemployment rose, leading to a surge in forced sales, prices would be driven down further.
The level of unsold property on estate agents’ books remained historically high during the month at an average of 76, due to the lack of buyer activity and sellers’ reluctance to accept a lower price.
However, the group said there did appear to be pent up demand, with “property vultures” circling the market looking for the right deal.
While the West Midlands saw the highest rise, at the other end of the scale asking prices in Wales fell by a further 3.3 per cent, while those in the North were 1.1 per cent lower.
Mr Shipside said the events of the past few months would have long-term consequences for the housing market, which was unlikely to ever be the same again.
He said: “For those who have been active in the housing market in the last 20 years, or were now hoping to get on the housing ladder following recent price falls, the rules have changed for good.
“When we look back on these turbulent times, I suspect we will not only realise that we came closer to the brink than most imagine, but we will also clearly recognise it as the end of the long period of growth in owner occupation.”
The average property for sale in England and Wales now costs £229,691.