The window of opportunity for property investors to snap up bargains in the UK residential real estate market has passed, it is claimed. The average price of property has risen five times this year, giving a clear sign that prices will be stable for the rest of 2009, according to property website Rightmove.
The group’s July figures show that the average price rose 0.6% to £227,864 after falling 0.4% in June. Asking prices have now risen by 6.7% since the beginning of 2009, the group says, adding there has been a 20% increase in sellers coming to market compared to the previous year-to-date average.
Seven of 10 regions tracked by Rightmove rose this month, led by East Anglia where asking prices increased 6.1%. In London prices rose 1.4% on the month and 0.6% from a year earlier. Westminster led the price increases in London, rising some 5.2%.
‘There is now clear evidence that there were some fire-sale prices last winter, when a few brave buyers correctly called the bottom of the market. In most parts of the country prices have consistently improved during spring,’ said Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove.
‘With growing confidence that we’ve passed the bottom, buyers are more active, although they may discover that many of the best buys have gone,’ he added.
The average number of properties available for sale at each real-estate agent fell to 70 from 71 in June but buyer activity remains strong. The number of people looking at property listings on the website is ‘much higher than we would expect’ for this time of year, Shipside explained.
He added that the market is expected to remain steady for the rest of the year with asking prices, which have already risen by 7% so far this year, remaining flatish as a lack of mortgage lending delays the recovery.
However, if banks start to loosen their lending criteria this will give a boost to the property market and prices could rise by up to 5%. If more lenders loosened their lending criteria, prices could rise by a further 5% this year, taking the total annual gain to 12%, Shipside pointed out. The gloomy factors remain unemployment and repossessions.