Country houses for sale

Momentum picks up

The summer slowdown has been followed by a period of great activity this year, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). It says the number of registered buyers, properties on books and sales per agent all rose during August, as the market came to the end of the summer lull period.

However, while the increase in activity was noticeable, year-on-year it seems this was the lowest reported August rise since 2003, as increasing interest rates and reduced house price inflation inspired caution in consumers.

Agents also reported that after August the number of houses with four bedrooms or more on the market decreased by around 37%, as the first phase of the Government’s Home Information Pack scheme was launched. In addition to this it seems that the average time taken to sell a property also went up year-on-year, from 17 weeks in August 2006 to 18.2 weeks for August this year.

Another trend which became noticeable last month was the discrepancy between asking prices and selling prices: According to this report there was a difference of 3.5% in August 2007 compared to a difference of 3.1% at the same time last year, causing experts to urge vendors to price their properties realistically.

NAEA President Stewart Lilly said: ‘The housing market needs a period of sustained stability to allow people to take stock of the current situation and think carefully about their own personal options.

‘The latest figures indicate that a period of low house price inflation may well be on its way. However, the recent introduction of the second phase of HIPs is likely to cause more disruption and in particular prompt a ‘wait and see’ strategy from individuals who are unsure about the full impact of the legislation.’