An improving market? More house-sellers stick to the asking price

Revealed: the top and bottom areas for reductions across the country

Less than a third of current house sellers have knocked some cash off their asking price, in a further sign that confidence is returning to the market, a property website said today.

Some 31% of homes on the market have had the asking price cut, marking the lowest proportion recorded in two-and-a-half years and a sharp drop from 37% a year ago, Zoopla said.

The website suggested that sellers are becoming more likely to hold firm on their asking prices amid signs that the market is improving.

However, the findings also point to sellers in the North being more likely to chip away at their prices to achieve a sale than those in southern regions.

Wigan, Barnsley, Rotherham, Preston and Doncaster were named as the towns and cities with the highest proportion of price-reduced properties, with around 40% of homes on the market in these areas having undergone such cuts.

Of those homes that have had their price reduced, the average discount on the original asking price across the country is 6.9% or £21,000.

Romford in Essex has the biggest price reductions in the UK, with sellers knocking 10.3% or £32,289 off the asking price, with the Lancashire seaside town of Blackpool coming second.

Zoopla took the findings from its website, which covers 90% of the market. It has been regularly monitoring asking price reductions since the summer of 2010 and said the current national proportion of homes with discounts is the lowest it has seen.

London, where house prices have held up strongly compared with the rest of the UK due to strong demand from overseas buyers, has one of the lowest shares of discounted properties at 27%.

The English capital comes second only to Swansea in south Wales in terms of the lowest proportion of homes for sale which have had a price cut.

However, Swansea sellers who have made reductions are also offering some of the biggest discounts recorded in the study - at almost 10% or £18,649 on average.

Edinburgh was named as the city with the lowest asking price reductions, with typical discounts of less than 5%, and the proportion of the homes on the market with a price cut is also below the national average.

With its close links to London, there is evidence that the property market in Milton Keynes is holding up relatively well, with one of the lowest proportions of reduced-price properties recorded in the research and some of the smallest discounts.

Lawrence Hall, spokesman for Zoopla.co.uk, said the findings indicate "growing confidence in the market".

He added: "There is still a big regional divide with sellers in the North having to discount more often and by a greater amount."

The findings come as the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said today that it expects the market to pick up in the coming months, despite a lending dip in January.

Recent Government efforts to kick-start the market have caused wider mortgage availability. Financial information website Moneyfacts also said today that a recent mortgage price war among lenders has pushed average fixed-rate mortgage rates to their lowest levels in 24 years.

Sylvia Waycot, editor at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said there are some "amazing" mortgage deals to be had, provided that borrowers have enough equity in their home or a deposit and can meet lenders' criteria.

Here are the areas with the highest proportions of asking price reductions, with the percentage of homes on the market which are reduced and the average price reduction in percentage and monetary terms:

1. Wigan, 42.6%, 6.7%, £10,827

2. Barnsley, 41.2%, 8.9%, £13,156

3. Rotherham, 40.9%, 8.2%, £12,492

4. Preston, 39.1%, 8.3%, £16,794

5. Doncaster, 39.1%, 8.3%, £14,236

Here are the areas with the biggest asking price reductions, with the average size of the reduction in percentage and monetary terms followed by the percentage of homes on the market which are reduced:

1. Romford, 10.3%, £32,289, 35.5%

2. Blackpool, 9.9%, £14,143, 27.5%

3. Swansea, 9.8%, £18,649, 19.6%

4. Croydon, 9.1%, £23,864, 30.6%

5. Rochdale, 9.0%, £16,147, 33.4%

Here are the areas with the lowest proportions of asking price reductions, with the percentage of homes on the market which are reduced and the average price reduction in percentage and monetary terms:

1. Swansea, 19.6%, 9.8%, £18,649

2. London, 26.7%, 7.4%, £60,073

3. Blackpool, 27.5%, 9.9%, £14,143

4. Milton Keynes, 28.3%, 4.9%, £12,079

5. Bournemouth, 28.9%, 6.9%, £22,440

And here are the areas with the smallest asking price reductions, with the average size of the reduction in percentage and monetary terms followed by the percentage of homes on the market which are reduced:

1. Edinburgh, 4.9%, £13,050, 29.0%

2. Milton Keynes, 4.9%, £12,079, 28.3%

3. Bedford, 5.9%, £16,087, 31.1%

4. Lincoln, 6.0%, £11,434, 30.5%

5. Wolverhampton, 6.0%,£11,690, 30.0%

PA

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