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Asking prices reach all-time high: Rightmove

Asking prices reach all-time high: Rightmove

Property asking prices have hit a new all-time high, with the average new seller asking price up by 1.6 per cent to a new record of £286,133 in March, according to property portal Rightmove.

This price surpasses the previous high set last June by £4,351 and spurred the property listing website to argue that policies to ensure more homes are made available must be a key election topic.

Last week’s party manifestos almost unanimously featured pledges to build more houses, but Rightmove’s director Miles Shipside stated that record high housing demand and an under-supply of homes have delivered a new all-time high in the price of property coming to market in the month before the election.

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“While the annual rate of price increases may be dropping back, down from 5.4 per cent last month to 4.7 per cent this month, it’s of little comfort to buyers as even more modest increases stretch buyers’ finances into new territory with prices at record average highs.

“Furthermore, the rapid fall in general inflation means that the inflation-adjusted rate of house price growth remains high.”

The political challenge is most extreme in the south of the country, with the price of property coming to market up by an average of nearly £85,000 (+27.5 per cent) since the last election in May 2010.

March was the busiest ever month on the website, up almost 20 per cent year-on-year to 115m worth of transactions, although the number of new sellers were down 4 per cent so far in 2015 compared to 2014.

Mr Shipside observed that while demand is at record levels, there is less fresh property choice to buy this year as fewer home-owners are coming to market.

“Hesitation to sell and the use of property as a long-term investment are factors in this month’s new price record, and as we approach the election the highest ever cost of housing sets an interesting challenge for political leaders.”

Philip Jackson, director of Birmingham-based estate agent Maguire Jackson, commented that low stock remains an issue, with houses that are due to be completed in the autumn already sold.

“Asking prices in our area, while on the up, are still back at 2005/early 2006 prices, and haven’t yet got back to where they were during the 2007 peak.”

Nick Devonport, managing director of Northfields Estate Agents in West London, added: “I expect listing numbers to spike slightly over the next few days which could make up for the slight drop we saw over Easter. Overall I would describe the housing market as resilient – people are thinking longer term than they have in the past.

“The shocks that would have derailed momentum in the housing market, like a general election, are now faint whispers in the background,” he added.

peter.walker@ft.com