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Online House Hunter: 2011 takes shape

Alan Cleaver
houseuk 197x300 Online House Hunter: 2011 takes shape

Six months in and the shape of 2011's property market becomes clearer

A GENERAL consensus appears to be breaking out in the property market. Normally, you have to try to work out why one survey says property prices are going through the roof and another says they’re going through the floor. But now the headlines are broadly similar. Perhaps it’s because we are halfway through the year and a truer picture of 2011 is beginning to emerge.

Hometrack and Zoopla are two of the big players who have drawn together facts and figures for the first six months of this year and are even daring to gaze into the crystal ball as to what might happen for the second half of the year.

The general theme is a drop in confidence by homeowners. Perhaps that’s another way of saying that people are at last getting real about house prices. For a while after the economic crash, people seemed to be waiting or hoping for a return to the over-heated market of 2007. Now, it seems, people have realised that’s not going to happen and are adjusting their mind-set to the realities of the property market in 2011.

Zoopla’s survey says housing market confidence is down in all regions except London and the South East with only 57 per cent of customers expecting house prices to grow over the next six months. Difficulties obtaining a mortgage and continuing economic uncertainty are blamed.

Hometrack also point to ‘getting real’ market, with London (experiencing good growth at the moment) being sufficiently unusual to warrant being left out of the true national picture.

But perhaps the adjustment by sellers to the true picture of the housing market is actually going to encourage growth. Richard Donnell, Director of Research at Hometrack, says: “The latest survey from Hometrack shows a housing market in broad equilibrium with an increasing number of sales being agreed between more realistic sellers and a growing pool of buyers. Almost four years into the downturn, the housing market is showing signs of adapting to a low turnover environment.” And goes on to say: “After a slowdown over spring, the number of sales being agreed has, over the last two months, increased by 20 per cent. Both sellers and buyers have become more accepting of realistic pricing and this is evidenced by the
proportion of the asking price being achieved. The figure remains unchanged at 92.7 per cent – in line with the average for the last six months. Improved sales rates have resulted in the average time to sell a property falling to 9.4 weeks compared to 9.7 weeks in June.”

And for those looking for positives in a stuttering market, perhaps it’s the number increasing number of properties being offered for sale and the increasing number of new buyers being registered in Hometrack’s survey that offers the best hope for the second half of 2011.

As always, there are big regional differences in any snapshot of the housing market. Those wondering what’s happening to their two-bedroom house for sale in Tooting or the one-bedroom flat on the market in Wolverhampton can use a variety of online property portals to narrow searches to a particular town or postcode. I have listed a few below.

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