House price survey is 'misleading'

ESTATE agents believe a survey that shows asking prices for houses soaring by more than 6% this month is "misleading".Property website Rightmove.co.uk has released new figures that reveal a surge in price tags in October, representing "a remarkable turnaround" in the housing market.

ESTATE agents believe a survey that shows asking prices for houses soaring by more than 6% this month is "misleading".

Property website Rightmove.co.uk has released new figures that reveal a surge in price tags in October, representing "a remarkable turnaround" in the housing market.

Following two to three months of almost stable or declining prices, it claims, average prices are now up 3.3% nationally – and by 6.3% in East Anglia.

Miles Shipside, the site's commercial director, said: "There has been a clear upsurge in activity, with many first-time buyers and investors looking for properties, particularly at the cheaper end of the market.


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"People who had been waiting in the expectation of a significant downward price correction have realised it's not going to happen. Now they are buying – acknowledging that the market has bottomed out."

The Rightmove.co.uk survey, based on asking prices of properties marketed by its 3,700 estate agents, puts the average price of a house in East Anglia at £173,023.

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But Guy Jenkinson, of Bidwells estate agents in Ipswich, said the picture being painted by the survey was misleading as asking prices often differed from selling prices.

"I'm very surprised that Rightmove is quoting a rise in average prices of over 6% in a calendar month," he said.

"This might be a reflection of inflated guide prices and not necessarily a true statement in respect of real sales values."

Mr Jenkinson said there had been a period of "normal to difficult" trading in the middle to top end of the market, although the investor market was doing well. He added he expected another "steady year of trading" in 2004.

Gary Smith, Suffolk chairman of the National Association of Estate Agents, agreed there was no indication of property prices rising significantly, though he expected the market to continue performing "fairly well" through Christmas and into the New Year.

The survey showed only asking prices in the North rose by more than in East Anglia, increasing by 6.4%.

Mr Shipside added: "We're seeing a seasonal autumn surge, partly driven by people who are house-hunting again now that their children are back at school and who would like to move before Christmas – it's not the beginning of another boom market as we saw in 2002."

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