House prices creep up as experts predict ‘smoother year’ for buyers and sellers

UK

Average house prices have jumped by about £4,500 this month – but experts are still predicting that 2024 will be a “smoother year” for buyers.

According to Rightmove, the typical asking price for a British property now stands at £359,748, which is 0.7% lower compared with a year ago.

The number of new houses coming onto the market for sale is also 15% higher than this time in 2023 – outpacing the 5% increase in demand from buyers.

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While a “stop-start market” that dominated last year looks to be subsiding, the website says elevated interest rates and the cost of living crisis are still affecting spending power.

Rightmove’s director of property science, Tim Bannister, said: “More new sellers are now entering the market, and with more confident pricing.

“While the increased level of buyer activity that we’re also seeing may justify some of this increased pricing confidence from sellers, it’s important that sellers who are keen to find a buyer don’t get carried away with New Year enthusiasm when setting their price expectations.”

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Interest from potential buyers was highest in London and the North East of England during the first week of January.

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Estate agents say they’ve seen an uptick in valuations and viewings, with would-be movers also assessing what they can afford.

Paul Bayliss, from Square Room Estate Agents in Lancashire, said: “We’re also starting to see upsizers return who are now more confident to take out a larger mortgage for a bigger home.”

Meanwhile, the real estate consultancy Knight Frank has said it now expects house prices to rise by 3% in 2024.

As recently as October, the company had been expecting prices to fall by 4% this year.

The revised forecasts come amid growing confidence that the Bank of England will cut interest rates several times in the coming months as inflation cools.

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