Property asking prices fall: Property news update

Plus, the stresss of houseselling, damp, annual bills estimate, and living above public buildings

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The Independent Online

The price of homes coming onto the market in November fell by 1.7 per cent compared to October, says Rightmove.

"Selling is more difficult than it was earlier in the year," said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, "though the mini-boom experienced by much of the country has hit the pause rather than the stop button.

"Underlying demand remains strong but has been muted by higher prices stretching affordability at the same time as the ability to borrow more to fund those higher prices has been curtailed by tighter mortgage lending criteria. After an active year it’s a sensible pause and, with the winter months approaching, sellers are hoping a cheaper asking price may spur those scarcer buyers into action."

Last year, Rightmove data revealed a surge in visits to its site starting on Boxing Day (1.3 million hits), growing during the whole holiday period and reaching more than 2.2 million by the first working day of the year. 

"Buyers are busy online over Christmas," added Shipside. "There are nine days of holidays when people have time on their hands to window shop for new properties from the comfort of their own home, often testing out their new tablet and smartphone gifts in the process. 

Underestimating annual bills

People underestimate their main household bills (council tax, gas, water and electricity) by an average of £770, according to figures from Santander.

Just over a quarter do not read their statements fully and four per cent of the 2,000 adults questioned never even open their statements at all.

"Increases in household bills have added to the cost of living in recent years and it’s more important than ever that people check their bills thoroughly," said Matt Hall, Head of Banking at Santander. "Some can be tricky to understand, so it’s important that households keep an eye on statements and call their supplier if anything is unclear."

One in three live with damp 

A third of 1,000 homeowners surveyed by AppliancesDirect.co.uk say that they live with some form of damp in their homes. A fifth say they have had to throw away clothes and shoes as a result of damp and a similar figure have suffered nasal, throat, skin or eye irritation

How stressful is selling your home?

Research from online estate agent eMoov.co.uk suggests that selling your home is more stressful than your wedding day.

One in five people surveyed said that selling a property is the most stressful thing they have done, although a third of women put it second to childbirth

"Sitting an important exam, getting married or a first date pale into insignificance compared to the protracted and expensive process of moving home," said Russell Quirk, CEO of online estate agent eMoov.co.uk.

Living above public buildings

There is room for 630,000 new homes in London by building flats above public buildings such as hospitals, schools and libraries, according to a report by consultants WSP.

"This isn’t about replacing schools and hospitals with apartment blocks, it’s about using the existing land more effectively with the added bonus that you can regenerate community facilities at the same time," said WSP director  Bill Price. "It makes so much sense. These sites by their very nature are ideally located for new homes, close to transport and amenities. So why isn’t it being done already?"

WSP’s survey found that two thirds of those questioned would happily live above a library and a quarter above a school or hospital.

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