Property asking prices in the UK jumped by more than £2,000 in February, pushing average prices over the £300,000 mark for the first time since November.
Property portal Rightmove, which tracks 90pc of the UK property market, reported “record activity at the start of 2018” and found that the average asking price across Britain in February was £300,001, up 0.8pc, or £2,414 from January.
The rise follows two consecutive months of falling prices, with December and January recording average asking prices of £295,520 and £297,587, respectively.Despite January being “the busiest month ever” with house-hunters visiting the website 141m times, Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said February’s uplift in asking prices was “well below the 1.6pc monthly average at this time of year over the last 10 years”.
Mr Shipside advised sellers to be cautious and not to over-price given stretched buyer affordability. He said: “Whilst it is the norm for new sellers’ asking prices to be buoyant at the start of a new year, this first complete month in 2018 is seeing more pricing optimism than the comparable period in 2017.
“The political and economic uncertainty is out of sellers’ control, but they are in control of their asking prices, and in general they are not being overly ambitious or setting too high an asking price.”
Property is being snapped up most quickly in Livingston in West Lothian, Rightmove said, with homes in the town selling in just 17 days. The national average was 72 days.
Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, Scotland, was identified as the next biggest selling hotspot, with homes taken off the market after just 20 days on average.Rugby and Nuneaton in Warwickshire, Hitchin in Hertfordshire and Wellingborough in Northamptonshire are also current property hotspots, with offers accepted within 21 days, Rightmove said.
Official figures released last week suggest that Britain’s house prices could be recovering, with annual growth up 5.2pc in the year to December, an increase of 0.2pc from November.The data, published by HM Land Registry and Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that while the annual growth rate has lingered around 5pc throughout 2017, prices appear to be rising.
But analysts have warned that the property market will remain sluggish in 2018. Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said the “lack of inventory on agents’ books” was continuing to prove “a major challenge”, adding that the number of valuations being undertaken was “not suggestive of a pick-up in new supply anytime soon”.
Capital Economics has forecast that house prices will grow by 2pc in 2018, while JLL predicted that the average UK property would rise in value by just 1pc.Standard & Poor’s estimated house prices would rise by 0.5pc this year, a lower rate than many other forecasts.