Belfast Telegraph

Property market on the slide, says report

By David Prosser

House prices have fallen for the second month running, Britain's leading property website said last night, and the decline appears to be accelerating.

Rightmove, the online property portal which lists 200,000 properties, said the average asking price has fallen 1.7% over the past month, following a 0.6% decline over the month to the middle of July.

This latest fall equates to a drop in the average price of a home listed on Rightmove from £236,000 to £232,000.

Rightmove's latest housing index also reveals a number of other worrying signs that appear to support recent evidence that the market is now running out of steam.

The average number of properties available at each estate agent rose for the sixth month running, with new supply continuing to outstrip the speed with which more mortgage finance is being extended.

That suggests that there is too much supply for current levels of demand in the market. In fact, the number of sellers joining the market during August, traditionally one of the quietest months of the year for property professionals, is the highest for three years - indicating that recent nervousness about the sector has not deterred people from putting their homes up for sale.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director, warned there is little prospect of any respite for the housing market in the months ahead. "There needs to be a spur to cause prices to rise, but as mortgages won't become available to the masses, and last year's shortage of housing stock on the market shows no sign of reappearing, we can't see it happening during the remainder of 2010," he said.

"For the market to gain some more headroom, we need to see mortgage approvals running at over 50% of new listings.

But for the last few months, this figure has struggled to consistently hit 40%."

The Rightmove report echoes the analysis of almost every other tracker of house prices, with Nationwide Building Society, Halifax Bank, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Land Registry all reporting that the property market has now gone into reverse.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.