16:33 PM, 14th January 2011, About 12 years ago 3
The big freeze sent a chill through the housing market as sales slumped to an eight-year low in December.
Estate agents say sales plummeted to just an average two per branch for the month – the lowest figure since January 2003.
In November 2010, average sales were seven properties per branch.
Sellers and agents expect fewer sales in the holiday season, but this year snow and ice gripped the nation and kept everyone indoors.
Sales have picked up since the New Year, according to the latest report from the National Association of Estate Agents, but they say the market is unlikely to fully recover for some weeks.
“December is always a slow month for agents, but there is little doubt that these figures are worse than usual. However it is important not to read too much into it. This lack of sales can be explained by freak weather conditions, rather than any underlying problem with the market,” said NAEA president Mike Jones.
Rightmove reports selling prices edge up
“We would hope to see a bounce-back in the next few months. Indeed, the New Year has begun very strongly and agents have reported a very busy couple of weeks that we are hopeful will continue.”
Meanwhile, online property portal Rightmove says sellers have upped their prices by an average £711 per property (0.3%) in December – the first rise for three months.
The web site also claims fewer homes are coming to market with levels at their lowest since January 2009.
“Potential sellers, mainly of semi-detached properties, are either unable or unwilling to move,” said a Rightmove spokesman.
Rightmove expects house prices to stabilise over the next few months as more sellers hold back from the market to create an undersupply of homes for sale, while demand is expected to increase.
The NAEA also pointed out less prospective buyers registered with agents – with the average per estate agent branch dropping from 241 to 227 people from November to December.
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