Help to Buy fails to shake or stir housing market so far

Help to Buy fails to shake or stir housing market so far

New seller asking prices have dropped by 2.4%, Rightmove reported this morning. But asking prices are 4% higher than in November last year – the highest annual inflation for a November since 2007.

Today’s monthly fall is in line with normal pre-Christmas trends, and comes despite hype over Help to Buy.

Rightmove’s own site traffic is up 30% since the launch of the second phase was announced in September.

According to Rightmove, estate agents are reporting that few Help to Buy mortgage applications have so far been approved.

The site also reports that a quarter of potential home movers have not heard about the second phase of the taxpayer-backed 95% mortgage scheme.

Stock per estate agency branch is down to 67 properties from 71 this time last year.

However, stock levels of smaller homes – flats and terrace houses – has fallen less than supply of larger homes.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: “It is very early days but, given first-time buyer demand is expected to be the big winner from Help to Buy, it is encouraging that the decline in property coming to the lower end of the market is less marked.”

With traffic on Rightmove up and available property down, the site says there are indications that momentum is building for 2014 as the industry waits for any tangible impacts of Help to Buy Phase Two to kick in.
Shipside said: “The excitement about Help to Buy’s early launch failed to buck the seasonal trend of a fall in new sellers’ average asking prices. At this time of year it’s mainly those with a more pressing need to sell that come to market, driving average asking prices down.

“It takes a lot to throw people off course from marketing after rather than before Christmas, and in spite of the most positive selling environment since the start of the credit crunch in 2007, it seems potential sellers will be waiting until at least 2014.”
He added: “Estate agents expect a more buoyant 2014. However, agents’ challenges differ wildly depending on local market conditions.

“While some are really concerned about future sales because of a lack of fresh sellers, others report some sellers getting too brave with their asking price aspirations in less active parts of the country, potentially stifling a recovery before it has got going.”

The average asking price of a property new to the market on Rightmove is now £246,237. In Greater London, the average asking price stands at £517,276.

After last month’s furore, when central London agents accused Rightmove of being sensationalist, Rightmove is disappointingly silent in its commentary on central London prices.

However, its data shows asking prices in Hammersmith and Fulham stand at just over £1m and are 19.1% ahead of last year.

In Kensington & Chelsea, the average asking price is now £2,298,155.

All of Rightmove’s prices are wildly at odds from actual prices shown by Halifax (£171,991), and Nationwide (£173,678) for October.