Anxious buyers are deterred from purchasing ?run of the mill? houses says a report by Capital Economics, but demand for the best properties remains strong.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that demand for ?the best? property remains reasonably strong, despite the generally depressed level of housing market activity. According to Capital Economics, nervous buyers are steering clear of houses which are ?run of the mill? or that have certain drawbacks. As a result, better quality houses have increasingly dominated the market.

?Whenever the residential market has a downturn it is always the quality house that will sell because of the relative scarcity?, agrees James Laing of Strutt and Parker. ?We are still in a strong market today but there is certainly a greater equilibrium between buyers and sellers with more property coming to the market this autumn?.

According to Laing, an architecturally interesting house with plenty of land or a cottage in a rural location will see as well as it would have done two years ago: ?There has been no downturn at the top end,? he states.

Priced by Strutt and Parker in the region of £4,225,000 South Pavillion is a house that will sell at top price, regardless of any downturn in the property market

Last month there was further evidence of rising buyer interest, although it was not conclusive. Meanwhile, asking prices and agreed sales prices fell for the second time in three months leaving market analysts to questioning whether the period of stagnation might be coming to an end.

Laing is positive that realistic asking prices are the key: ?If you have something of lesser quality, with a road or train or pylon lines nearby you need to be realistic and recognise that it might go for 15% less?, he advises.

At £1,550,000, The White House, Woldingham, Surrey is an example of a house that will sell because of its realistic price Strutt and Parker

The latest fall in house prices watched by Nationwide was modest, at just 0.2% which is equivalent to a reduction of £1,000 in the price of the average house. But the fall has fully reversed the rise seen in July and brings the annual rate of house price inflation to the lowest it has been since May 1996.

Oakleigh House, Charingworth has just come to the market this week with Strutt and Parker at an asking price of £1.25 million

?You need to go to the market for the first time with a sensible price? says Laing, ?If your house is worth £2 million and you advertise it at £1.75 million it may still sell for nearly £2 million? he says.

Stephen Tarrant, Hamptons International Sales Director for Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire agrees: ?Over the last twelve months the average house price in the region dropped for the first time in years, by 5%’, he explains, ‘This, we believe, is the result of the market re-adjusting after a prolonged period of growth. Properties are now coming to the market at affordable realistic levels and buyers are making 10% more offers.’

Sensible pricing will allow sellers to take full advantage of the small rise in buyer interest noted in last month. John Denney, Country House Director of Hampton’s International says: ‘Traditionally August is a quiet and flat month, however this month viewing figures have increased considerably (up 25%), together with a 63% increase in offers and 21% more sales agreed – including a lot of our older stock, as sellers became more aware of the market conditions’.