House prices near peaks seen before recession

Property asking prices have neared their pre-crisis peaks, according to the latest RightMove House Price Survey, published today.

The website reports that the average price of newly marketed property in February was £235,741, just £2,115 lower than their high peak for the month, recorded in 2008 before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Asking prices are not always matched by eventual selling prices but can be a good indication of trends. In fact, the latest official house price figures published by the Office of National Statistics last week was also positive, revealing that the average price achieved across the country last December was £233,000, up 3.3 per cent over the year.

In further good news, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reported that sales increases have been seen in the past four consecutive months.

The RightMove survey shows asking prices have climbed 1.1 per cent in the past year but improved 2.8 per cent over the month. "Some agents are reporting their busiest New Year since the onset of the credit crunch," said Miles Shipside, the property website's housing market analyst. But he warned that the market still has some way to go. "Certain sectors will remain on ice until the return of wider-spread mortgage availability."

The two most active age ranges are the 45 to 54 bracket – which make up a quarter of those planning to sell this year – and the 55 to 64 category which accounts for 30 per cent. Only 29 per cent of sellers are aged under 45. "They say life begins at forty, but in today's housing timetable you do not reach your upwardly mobile prime for at another five years," said Mr Shipside.

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