House sales defy downturn fears

Melanie Bien
Sunday 18 November 2001 01:00
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Properties are taking just eight weeks to shift, despite widespread fears that people would be put off moving house in the aftermath of the events of 11 September.

According to Bradford & Bingley estate agents' November report, properties are selling faster than ever, dispelling fears of a recession in the UK housing market. And concern over unemployment is not yet having a major impact on the housing market, although there are regional and local exceptions.

"Although there is more sensitivity in the housing market, particularly in the South-east, there is still significant interest in property coming onto the market," said Ian Davies, regional business director for Bradford & Bingley. "People are continuing to take advantage of great mortgage deals following interest rate cuts."

With six people chasing each home on the market, demand remains high. This is particularly true in the South-east with 10 buyers for every property, although this fell from 13 buyers per property in June.

"The market can be divided into those who have to move and those who want to," added Mr Davies. "The former are still getting on and making decisions, while the latter are thinking a bit more about it and waiting."

Many branches report that new buyers are beginning to hold back from moving until the New Year. "There's no disputing that the market did take a knock as consumers wavered on making major decisions," said Mr Davies.

"But this data shows that two months down the line people are still buying and selling their homes for a realistic price," he added.

Sellers will also be relieved to note that, on average, properties are achieving 96 per cent of the asking price – only one per cent less than in September.

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