London house prices steady as market recovers

 
Julian Harris
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LONDON is set to buck the trend of Britain’s housing slump, according to Hometrack’s latest national housing survey, released today.

While prices across the country fell by 0.2 per cent in February, they stayed level in the capital, the survey said.

It was the first time that London’s prices had held strong after seven months of decline, Hometrack said.

“The strongest market conditions were seen in the south of the country,” the report said.

“There is a growing gap in the time on the market between the southern regions (8.6 weeks) and northern regions (12.1 weeks) reflecting the differing supply-demand balance,” it said.

Properties in London also took the shortest time to sell, at an average of 6.7 weeks, the survey said. In the UK as a whole, properties stay on the market for 10 weeks before sale.

London also recorded the highest upward change in the number of properties listed on the market, at 9.9 per cent – although the UK as a whole saw a 7.5 per cent increase in new listed properties.

In its report, Hometrack warned that a lack of supply “can only provide so much support to prices.”

Yet there were signs of green shoots for the housing market across the country, with demand jumping 14.7 per cent, the first increase for eight months.

Meanwhile, agents reported a 25 per cent rise in agreed sales over February. The proportion of the UK posting price falls has dropped over the last four months, mirroring signs from other surveys that the market may be close to bottoming out.

Lower prices were reported in 26 per cent of the country in February, down from 37 per cent the previous month, and 57 per cent in October 2010.