Nearly 50% of househunters believe property prices are unfair and unreasonable

Only one in four expect prices to be lower this time next year, while second report shows house prices remain fairly stable

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The Independent Online

A significant price gap is opening up between what sellers feel they can get for a property and what buyers are happy to pay.

The survey of nearly 40,000 househunters by Rightmove suggest that around half (49%) of people planning to buy in the next year believe house prices in their area are above what they consider ‘fair and reasonable’. However, just over a third of those planning to sell agrees with them.

“Unless both parties are able to bridge the price gap, then a stand-off situation ensues leading to lower numbers of successful sales," said Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove. "Naturally, sellers have an interest in standing their ground in order to achieve the best price but in the current housing market, where sellers outnumber successful buyers by around two to one, sellers need to lower the price or increase the perception of value to avoid being outflanked by their competition. First impressions are vital, and if a prospective buyer’s first impression is that a property is over-priced, they may not take their interest any further.”

The survey also showed that

* only a quarter of people moving expect property prices to be lower in 12 months, with seven out of ten expecting prices to be the same or higher

* one in five believe prices will be higher in a years’ time as a result of ‘overpricing’

* 56% said receiving a sensible offer was their single biggest concern when selling

Meanwhile, house price growth remains broadly stable, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index which says that house prices decreased by 0.6% in July following two consecutive rises.

Peter Rollings, CEO of estate agent Marsh & Parsons, said: “A lethargic mortgage market and faltering economy have conspired to undermine house prices, and the performance of central London is masking even greater falls around the country. Securing an affordable mortgage without a colossal deposit is an Olympian task for the average buyer, and this is reining in competition for properties across the country, preventing sales prices from climbing back to anything like their pre-crunch heights."