Lowest February house price rise on record: Rightmove

Average asking prices were up just £14 between January and February – to £362,452 Over the year, asking prices are up 3.9% – down from 6.3% a month earlier. Buyer numbers are up 11% from the same time, so there are positive signs ahead. But the number of sales agreed are down 11% from the same period in 2019.

The Rightmove house price index has been issued today.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance, Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Realism has engulfed the property market, but pessimism is being kept at bay by lower mortgage rates.

“Sellers are keeping a lid on asking prices. Usually at this time of year they’re gearing up for the spring selling season with punchy pricing. This year they’re well aware that over-pricing at this stage will mean they could miss out on the spring rush, and face cutting their prices as the market slows in the summer.

“Meanwhile, the number of people getting in touch with estate agents has risen, as falling mortgage rates are convincing more of them that it might be time to dip their toe back into the market. According to Moneyfacts, the average two-year rate is 5.32%, and the average five-year rate is 5.03%, and you can now get a five-year deal below 4%. It has been enough to stimulate more demand.

“However, we shouldn’t get too carried away by this trend, because the number of buyers agreeing a sale are still down from the same period in 2019. There’s a good chance that mortgages are still holding the market up. Buyers know rates are on the way down, and they’re not in a hurry to fix their rate any higher than they need to. The problem for the market is that if everyone holds off for just a few months, buyers may be forced to cut their asking prices to get a sale over the line, which could mean prices fall despite mortgage rates coming off the boil.”