One in five buyers paid more than the asking price in March as competition for properties intensified, figures showed today.
The average number of properties estate agents had on their books fell for the sixth consecutive month during March to stand close to a 10-year low, the National Association of Estate Agents said.
But the shortage of stock did not stop the number of sales agreed per branch rising to an average of 10 during the month.
The combination of limited supply and fierce competition among buyers led to 19 per cent of properties selling for more than their asking price.
Jan Hÿtch, president of National Association of Estate Agents, said:“The supply crisis continues to deepen, and the Government must act now to offer house hunters hope in an increasingly congested market.
“Current conditions mean that in just a few months we’ve seen a large increase in the amount of people willing to offer over market price to secure homes.”
But buyers can still find properties with reduced prices if they do their research.
Here are some properties with reduced asking prices:
1. Six bedroom detached period stone farmhouse in Skipton reduced from £735,000 to £675,000.
2. Seven bedroom detached house in Brentwood reduced from £885,000 for £835,000
3. Six bedroom detached house in Plymouth reduced from £2,500,000 to £2m.
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Total mortgage advances have soared by a third during March as the market continues to recover, figures showed today.
A total of £15.4bn was advanced during the month, 4 per cent more than in February and 33 per cent above the level seen in March 2013, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.
Lending during the first quarter was also significantly ahead of a year earlier, with an estimated £46.3bn advanced in the three months to the end of March, 37 per cent upon the same period of 2013.
But the figure was 10 per cent below advances for the fourth quarter of last year, when lending levels were particularly high.
Bob Pannell, chief economist at the CML, said: “Alongside benign developments in the wider UK economy and the labour market, housing market sentiment continues to strengthen.”
But he added that while the trend for strong year-on-year growth was continuing, the underlying profile appeared to be a “little gentler than in recent months”.
Signs of a slight slowdown in lending levels are likely to calm speculation that a bubble could be developing in the property market.
The Office for National Statistics also recently reported that house prices in the UK had reached a new record high, with growth in London soaring by 17.7 per cent during the year to the end of February, while across the UK as a whole prices rose by 9.1 per cent.
But Bank of England figures showed the number of mortgages approved for house purchase actually dipped slightly during February, suggesting demand for property may be easing slightly.
Meanwhile, the CML said lenders appeared to be ready for the implementation of new lending rules on April 26, which will see tougher affordability criteria applied to borrowers.
Mr Pannell said: “There are currently no signs of significant market disruption, arising from the imminent application of new lending rules associated with the Mortgage Market Review.
“While some mortgage lending indicators have eased back gently, this is from the very high levels of recent months.”
But he added that glitches could not be ruled out and some lenders may suffer from demand running ahead of their ability to process applicants in the short term.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The lending market continues to strengthen as a result of the combination of cheap finance and lenders with a real appetite to lend.
“With the economic recovery continuing apace – unemployment falling, wages rising and inflation edging off further – the markets are anticipating an early interest rate rise.”
But he added that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney had repeatedly played down expectations of an early rate rise, and any hike in the official cost of borrowing could be delayed until next year or after the General Election.
With its detached gym, decked terrace with hot tub and a Hollywood style vanity area in the bedroom, this spruced up bungalow is fitting of anyone in the entertainment industry.
The three bedroom property is understood to have once been the home of singer and television personality Alesha Dixon, who lived there for two years.
In the popular location of Welwyn Garden City – where Alesha grew up – the house is now on the market for £1.150,000
Dixon reappeared on our screens last weekend as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams.
She first found fame as part of the all-female band Mis-Teeq, before later appearing as a contestant – and then judge – on Strictly Come Dancing.
The Hertfordshire property is named Rosewood and has been extensively refurbished, boasting high gloss white cabinets with stricking glass splash backs, an inset television overlooking a sunken style bath and a Japanese garden.
The number of people out of work continued to fall during the first part of the year, providing a further boost to the housing market.
Unemployment dropped by 77,000 during the three months to the end of February, compared with the previous quarter, as the UK’s economy continued to recover.
There was also a 1.7 per cent jump in pay and bonuses during the three months, compared with a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The rise marked the first time that pay growth has outstripped Consumer Price Inflation since the three months to April 2010, meaning wages are once again rising in real terms.
The figures are good news for the property market, with house prices traditionally rising during periods of high employment, as people feel confident about moving up the property ladder.
High levels of employment also mean people are less likely to be forced to sell their homes or have them repossessed because they are struggling to pay their mortgage after losing their job.
Overall, the ONS said a total of 30.39 million people were employed in the three months to February 2014, 691,000 more than during the same period a year earlier.
There was also an increase in the total of weekly hours worked, with this measure rising to 973 million during the three months.
The number of people who were unemployed dropped to 2.24 million, 77,000 lower than in the previous quarter and 320,000 below the figure for a year earlier.
The fall pushed the unemployment rate down to 6.9 per cent of the labour force, compared with 7.9 per cent a year earlier, but still above the level of 5.2 per cent seen in late 2007/early 2008.
Rising employment and lower inflation helped households’ optimism about their financial situation reach a record high during April.
The Markit Household Finance Index climbed to its highest level during the month since the survey was first launched in February 2009.
The group’s workplace activity measure and job security index were also both at or close to record highs, while household spending increased for the second month running, as consumers felt increasingly confident.
Jack Kennedy, senior economist at Markit, said: “Falling inflation delivered a boost to UK households in April, resulting in the best sentiment towards their financial situation since the start of the survey over five years ago.
“A long-awaited return to rising real wages is likely to boost consumer spending as we move through 2014, adding another piece to the jigsaw of the UK’s economic recovery.”
Today’s figures come the day after the ONS reported average UK house price had hit a new record high.
The typical cost of a home had soared by 9.1 per cent during the year to the end of February, to stand at £253,000 – a £20,000 gain during the past year.
The London property market continued to power ahead, with prices in the capital surging by 17.7 per cent during the year to stand at £458,000.