A report by Hamptons International has found that the property market is stabilising rather than crashing. Property purchase approvals hit a 10-month high in May and the latest RICS survey found that its members anticipate a pick-up in the market later this year. Hamptons claim that reasonable asking prices are the key to selling.

The agent suggests that reports by Rightmove, Halifax and Nationwide are confusing vendors and purchasers with conflicting analyses. Hamptons is keen to stress that the property market is very regionally driven and national headline pricing statements can be misleading, causing vendors to price their properties unrealistically high.

Southern counties, for example, saw buyer activity surpassing last year?s levels. Although only 1% more buyers registered than last June, 15% more offers and 31% more sales were reported. Northern counties saw a different picture with the central region marking a downturn in buyer activity, but surprisingly and in spite of this, 10% more sales were completed than in June last year.

Strong demand for properties in the Cotswolds led to record June sales in Hamptons? Broadway branch, the lender said. ?Overall prices have not dropped here. Demand is still strong for good quality Cotswolds houses and there are active buyers out there,? says Richard Saayman of Broadway. However a year-long shortage of good quality stock is making it hard for demands to be met.


Treyford Manor sold for 20% more than the £2 million asking price

The Midhurst office of Jackson-Stops and Staff sold three top-end properties for around 20% more than the asking price last month. One of these, Tryford Manor, Tryford had an asking price of £2 million. Field Farm in Minety, Wiltshire, a seven bedroom property surrounded by 120 acres of land is currently on the market at £2.5 million (Hamptons International 01386 859444).


Field Farm, Wiltshire is currently on the market at £2.5 million

Hamptons does however warn that apart from in atypical areas such as the Cotswolds and parts of the South East, the market is such that only realistically priced properties are attracting serious attention. Andrew Ferrier from Jackson-Stops and Staff agrees: ?nothing beats a keen asking price? he says.

Mike Chapman of Hamptons? Wilmslow office claims: ?the housing market increase here is showing signs of grinding to a halt, as sellers have belatedly realised that buyers are unwilling to pay the ever increasing prices. There is however plenty of demand for properties at the right asking price?.

Confidence amongst buyers and sellers does seem to be high. According to Hamptons fewer properties were withdrawn from the market in June and the number of transactions falling through was significantly lower than before.

The top end of the market is looking particularly positive as vendors are responding to the changing market and adjusting their prices. John Denney, Country House Director for Hamptons claims: ?Clients are aware that property values are at levels previously seen three years ago and are setting their prices accordingly. This in turn is generating greater interest from serious purchasers?.

Although Hamptons expects the levels of activity to reduce as the summer holiday period approaches, the demand for country houses in areas such as the Thames Valley and Chilterns remains strong:

?Due to the relative shortage of country houses with acreage, the summer months are proving a fruitful time for those owners going to the market?, says John Webb of Hamptons? Thames Valley office.