A north/south divide has opened up in the UK property market as the southern half of the country speeds up faster than the rest, according to a new survey. Evidence of a divide in market conditions can be seen by the length of time properties takes to sell, says the survey from property information company Hometrack.
The findings of the survey, which covered England and Wales, also suggest that despite some encouraging signs a broad recovery of the housing market is some time away.
In the southern regions of England the average time taken to sell is below nine weeks whereas in northern areas it is over 10 weeks. Homes sell fastest in London where the average timescale is 5.8 weeks. But they take longer in Wales where the average time it takes to sell is 11.8 weeks.
Property prices only increased in 10% of postcodes during the last month and the vast majority of these were in southern England, the survey also found. Overall prices across the board remained static for the third consecutive month but the proportion of the asking price being achieved is slowly rising, up to 91.5% in July compared with 88.3% in January.
However, Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, does not believe a sustained recovery is underway. ‘When we look back on the first half of 2009, the likelihood is that the tales of green shoots are proven to be little more than an unsustainable and short term blip,’ he said.
‘This is a blip fed by pent-up demand feeding back into the market from opportunistic cash buyers and households looking for family homes in southern England where supply is most constrained,’ he explained.
‘In the last recession it took five years from the peak of the market to the beginnings of a sustainable pick-up in transactions and house prices. Approaching two years into the start of the current downturn, history suggests the market has some way to go before the real green shoots of recovery begin to emerge, Donnell added. Will these signs of recovery bring more investors into the UK property market?