House prices hit near-£300k record high, Rightmove reveals
House sellers' asking prices jumped to a record high of nearly £300,000 on average in February, a property website has reported.
The typical price tag on a property coming to market is now £299,287 across England and Wales, Rightmove said.
This is an £8,324 increase compared with the average asking price in January and means the typical asking price in February has surpassed a previous all-time high set in October 2015 by £2,738.
Despite the hefty price increases, there are some encouraging signs for aspiring first-time buyers - as Rightmove said 2016 could be their year.
The property listings website said the volume of homes with two bedrooms or fewer coming to market was up by 10% in February compared with the same month in 2015. Homes of this size are typically sought by first-time buyers.
Rightmove director Miles Shipside said the increase in these property types coming to market could be due to a wave of first-time sellers putting their homes on the market ahead of a stamp duty increase for buy-to-let investors in April.
Such investors tend to buy the same types of property as first-time buyers and investors have reportedly been rushing to snap up homes before the deadline.
Mr Shipside said: "Regions outperforming the national average with over 10% more newly marketed homes with two bedrooms or fewer are London, East, South East, South West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber, and if this trend continues the increased competition among new sellers may help to temper price rises.
"More and more agents are reporting a healthy return in first-time buyer numbers, and with the cards increasingly stacked in their favour 2016 could prove to be the year of the first-time buyer."
Rightmove, whose records go back to 2002, said that the volume of new properties coming to market is now at its highest level since 2008, with a 5% uplift over a year ago.
But it warned that the increase is "patchy", with only London, the South East, the South West and Yorkshire and the Humber seeing above-average increases in stock. In the West Midlands, stock is down and the North West and Wales have only seen small stock increases, it said.
Two regions have seen double-digit increases in sellers' asking prices over the last year.
In London, the average asking price has jumped by 10.5% to £643,843. In the East the typical asking price has leapt even higher, increasing 10.7% to £321,630.
All regions have seen asking prices increase over the past year, with the North East recording the smallest annual uplift, rising 0.9% to £144,999.
In Wales, asking prices have grown 1.5% annually to reach £171,628.
Mr Shipside continued: "The new year's market has hit the ground running in many locations, continuing last year's momentum and resulting in the price of property coming to the market hitting a new high.
"Many agents reported high numbers of sales in November and December and properties selling more quickly, so it's encouraging to see signs of replenishment of property, especially in the first-time buyer sector.
"However, in spite of the apparent veneer of market buoyancy, those thinking of putting their property up for sale need to avoid being too optimistic with their initial asking price, as most buyers are still understandably being very selective about their future home."