UK home sellers boost prices as demand rises

08:40, January 19, 2010      

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UK home sellers raised asking prices in January as demand to buy new property outstripped the supply of homes for sale, Rightmove Plc said.

Average asking prices in England and Wales climbed 0.4 percent from the previous month to 222,261 pounds ($362,000), the UK's biggest property website said in a statement yesterday. From a year earlier, they increased 4.1 percent, leaving them 8.3 percent lower than the peak in May 2008.

Doubt about the economic outlook and limited mortgage availability is discouraging Britons from putting their property on the market, Rightmove said. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron are tapping voter concern on the economy as they campaign to win the general election, which must be held by June.

"Buyers have little choice in popular areas, and while this continues sellers have a window of opportunity to obtain a higher price and a speedier sale," Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said in the statement.

"The limited supply of sellers is being outstripped by buyer demand but we predict there will be more forced selling later in the year.

Six of 10 regions tracked by Rightmove showed price increases, led by a 4.8 percent gain in the North West. Asking prices in London are up 2.3 percent, led by a 7 percent jump in Westminster.

Rightmove said the number of properties available for sale per estate agent fell to 63 this month, the lowest in two years.

A shortage of new properties being built is also constraining supply and supporting prices. New home sales in Britain won't return to their 2007 peak for another five to seven years, Mark Clare, chief executive officer at UK homebuilder Barratt Developments Plc, said last week.

"While there are political and economic clouds on the horizon, there are signs that we are in for an active spring before the storm breaks later in the year," Shipside said.

The ruling Labour Party trails the opposition Conservatives by 13 points, according to a Populus poll for the Times in a survey that ended on Jan 10.

Source: China Daily
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