Asking prices slashed to tempt home buyers from Olympics

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The Independent Online

Sellers putting their homes on the market slashed asking prices in August in a bid to tempt would-be buyers away from the Olympics, according to the property webside Rightmove.

The company reported a dramatic 2.4 per cent fall in asking prices to £236,260 – a record fall for the month – as more homes came on to the market.

But the huge draw of London 2012 hit Rightmove as the amount of time spent property-surfing plunged sharply with traffic down as much as half during the opening and closing ceremonies, Team GB's "Super Saturday" of three gold medals and the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's sprint double.

Nearly 130,000 sellers put their homes on the market in August, Rightmove said.

Director Miles Shipside said: "The number of new sellers is slightly up on the same period last year, though perhaps as a reflection of their urgency to sell, or to compensate for the distraction of the achievements served up by Team GB, they have dropped their asking prices more aggressively than summer sellers in previous years."

Sellers in the South-east cut asking prices deepest, with a 4.2 per cent drop, as prices were lowered in every region of the UK except the North-west, Rightmove said. New homes are taking on average 92 days to sell in a sluggish market.

Mr Shipside added: "Any seller coming to market and hoping to move before Christmas needs to get their skates on to tempt a buyer who can proceed. It is possible that they may be assisted by the Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme, which may lead to greater mortgage availability at more competitive rates."

Recession figures to be revised

Glimmers of encouragement on the double-dip recession should emerge this week as number crunchers take a more upbeat view of the UK's performance between April and June.

In news that will cheer Chancellor George Osborne, the Office for National Statistics' initial estimate of a 0.7 per cent second-quarter slump, due to the extra day off for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, looks to have been overly pessimistic. Britain's builders have also seen a shallower fall than accounted for in initial estimates. Economists say these two factors should add 0.2 of a percentage point to output, taking the UK's overall decline over the quarter to 0.5 per cent.

With the Bank of England's rate-setters pencilling in a 0.5 per cent hit from the Jubilee, the underlying economy is likely to be stagnant rather than shrinking and may even have managed modest growth, experts say.

Retailers also enjoyed a more buoyant June than estimated.