THE housing market in the North has made an encouraging start to the year with asking prices on the increase, according to a new survey.
Prices have jumped by 3.8% month-on-month to reach £142,168 on average, property company Rightmove has today revealed.
Last month the average house price recorded in the region was £136,969 and it has predicted a stability in house prices will be seen in the coming months.
But it is not all good news as Rightmove also reported the North has seen the worst annual change in average house prices, with a -2.4% decrease.
Justin Anim, managing director for Pattinson estate agents in Newcastle, said: “The findings are reflective of what we are seeing here in the North East. There is not a substantial growth is house prices as things are remaining relatively stable – there is no big upsurge or downward movement. As long as the banks continue to restrain lending I predict we will continue to see a stability in house prices.
“The month-on-month increase may be due to a seasonal change as people tend to consider moving house at the beginning of a new year.
“However, these surveys should always be treat with a pinch of salt as throughout the North East there are micro-markets in the property sector.”
Nationally, prices are 1.1% higher than a year ago and are just £2,115 shy of a February record set in 2008, showing the market is making a “slow but steady recovery,” the study said.
Rightmove also reported that it recorded its busiest ever month in January, in a further sign that activity in the market is gathering pace.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “There has been a sprightly start to 2013, and while market activity remains patchy across locations and property type, some agents are reporting their busiest new year since the onset of the credit crunch.”
There have been signs of the market picking up in recent months after the launch of Government schemes to kick-start mortgage lending and give people a leg up on to the property ladder.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported that lending to first-time buyers reached a five-year high in 2012.
However, Rightmove said it had found that seven out of 10 people who plan to sell in 2013 will be aged over 45, suggesting that older people are likely to be driving the market this year.
Half of those planning to buy a home in 2013 said they would be third-time buyers, and downsizing was the main reason for selling in the vast majority of regions.
The two most active age brackets were found to be 45 to 54 year olds and 55 to 64 year olds, the study found, suggesting that those who already have access to equity and finance will be the main “movers and shakers” in 2013.
All regions across England and Wales recorded month-on-month increases to asking prices.
Rightmove said that the large monthly price increases recorded in northern areas and Wales were effectively “rebounds” from large house price falls at a time when there were low numbers of properties on the market towards the end of last year.
The North West recorded the highest monthly increase at 5.2%, taking prices to £156,801. However, prices in the region are still 1.8% lower than a year ago.
Wales saw the second highest month-on-month increase at 5%, meaning that, at £161,365, prices are 0.9% higher than a year ago.
Asking prices in London are a hefty 8.4% higher than they were a year ago at £486,890, although the month-on-month change was much softer at 1.2%.
The South East recorded the smallest monthly increase at 0.4%, taking average prices to £297,036.