Property news roundup: Time to agree home sales at lowest level since 2007

Plus, urban property outstrips rural homes, and first time buyers powering market
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In the last three months of 2013, it took on average less than eight and a half weeks to agree a price, nearly two weeks less than the same period in 2012, according to Hamptons International. 

This means that the time taken from advertising a home for sale to agreeing a price has fallen to its lowest level for six years.

In London, a property averages less than five and a half weeks on the market before an offer is accepted, although it takes more than double this time to agree a price in Wales, where it takes an average of more than 14 weeks to agree a sale.

However, the time between an agreed sale and exchange has risen from 10 weeks in 2012 to 11 today, partly due to increasingly complex mortgage procedures says Hamptons.

Johnny Morris, Head of Research at Hamptons International said: "While the time to agree a sale has fallen by a fifth, which chimes with the recovery in the market, the average masks a wide variation.

"One in 10 property sales are agreed  in the first week and two thirds in a month, but some have been around much longer. These stalwarts of unsold stock have been popping up in portal searches for as long as we can remember which just goes to show that even in a sellers’ market, not everything shifts quickly.”

Urban vs rural

Asking prices for properties in England's urban areas have risen faster than those in rural ones over the last 12 months, according to

The average asking price of homes in towns and cities across England has gone up by 12.9 per cent over the last year compared to 8.3 per cent for properties in the countryside.

Country properties have seen the biggest rise in value over the past year in the North West with asking prices up 17.5 per cent.

"Urban areas have been boosted by the strengthening economic recovery and growing jobs numbers," said Lawrence Hall of "And this boost is driving up demand and pricing for properties in towns and cities across England. We’re seeing similar, albeit slightly slower, growth in property prices in rural areas thanks to increased demand as buyers seek out more affordable options. However, anyone looking for a country retreat at a good price might be wise to act now before prices rise even further."

First time buyers rushing to buy

First time buyers returned to the property market in January faster than any other type of customer, according to Connells Survey & Valuation. In January there were 56 per cent more new buyers than in December 2013.

John Bagshaw, Corporate Services Director of Connells Survey & Valuation, comments: “A certain New Year jump is normal – but this January has felt more like a stampede. The seasonal rebound between December and January has been significantly stronger than we usually experience.

“One factor is the effect of government schemes – the vast majority of Help to Buy loans have been taken out by first time buyers. But alongside this is a wider movement, fuelled by a general surge of confidence and a new willingness by lenders to target new buyers."