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New sellers cut house asking prices

The stagnation of the housing market has continued with new sellers knocking almost £7,500 off their asking prices during the past month, according to new figures.

In the four weeks to 6 November, there was a 3.2 per cent fall in asking prices for homes coming on to the market - the largest plunge since December 2007, property website Rightmove revealed.

The group added that asking prices in England and Wales had now dropped in four of the past five months, meaning the average property is now worth £229,379.

It warned that sellers faced tough competition to find a buyer, due to an unseasonably high number of unsold properties on estate agents’ books.

Currently the average home takes 102 days to sell, the longest time recorded by the group since it began its index in 2001, as potential buyers adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.

There are signs that sellers are also putting their moving plans on hold until the outlook for the market is clearer, with the number of properties put up for sale falling by 9.1 per cent during the month.

Despite the drop, with an average of just over 24,000 new sellers coming to the market each week, properties for sale still outnumber the level of mortgages being approved for house purchase by two to one.

The group said that while not every property sells and not all buyers need a mortgage, the continuing shortage of mortgages was contributing to the current stagnation in the market.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “Agents report that the Christmas slowdown has come early this year, as both would-be buyers and sellers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy until the direction of next year’s housing market becomes apparent.

“The combination of high unsold stocks, the mortgage famine, a shaky economy and the normal winter slowdown gives an ideal scenario for bargain-hunting buyers.”

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