Residential 

Homeowners forced to sell below asking price

Homeowners forced to sell below asking price

Homeowners are being forced to sell their homes at almost 4 per cent less than the asking price, according to property website Zoopla.

The average home in England and Wales sold for 3.86 per cent below its asking price in September this year, with the asking-to-selling price gap 0.32 per cent wider than last year.

In London, homeowners are selling for an average of 4.09 per cent below the asking price – significantly higher than the 1.96 per cent recorded last year.

The trend follows a sharp slowdown in the capital’s housing market, with September HMRC data showing a 0.2 per cent month-on-month fall in average house prices.

But vendors in the south east as a whole are most realistic as to what their homes will sell for, with a gap of just 3.06 per cent between asking and selling prices.

Wales has seen the biggest cuts, with a 5.53 per cent difference between asking price and selling price, followed by the north west and north east of England with a 4.46 per cent difference.

Lawrence Hall, spokesperson for Zoopla, said: “It’s unsurprising that properties in the south of the country are currently selling closest to their original asking price, as demand for homes in the capital and its surrounding commuter belt remains high.

“However, it's interesting to note that these same areas are the ones that have seen sale values slip furthest from the asking price over the past year, which is perhaps reflective of a slight slowdown in market activity in and around London.”

According to figures from ARLA Propertymark, properties were sold for less than the asking price on average 77 per cent of the time in 2017, while only four per cent were sold for more than the original asking price.

In November, Rightmove reported more than a third of sellers had been forced to lower their asking prices in the biggest spate of reductions for five years.

And a number of brokers have reported being hit by a wave of downvaluations from surveyors, which can scupper a buyer’s chance of getting a mortgage.

But buying agent and market commentator Henry Prior remained relatively upbeat about the state of the housing market.

He said: “It does not worry me in the slightest. Markets move up and markets move down. I think that a correction is overdue and will be welcomed by a few people. 

“It is only worrying if people cannot buy and sell – but we know they can. HMRC has shown transactions are smack on the long-term average.

“The housing market is a double-sided coin. On the one hand, there are rising house prices; but on the other side of the coin there is the buyer, for whom lower prices are a good thing. This national obsession with ever-rising house prices is not something I subscribe to.”

simon.allin@ft.com

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