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London house sales rise as stock hits low

HOUSE prices in London are leading the country higher, according to the latest monthly house price index compiled by Rightmove, the property website.

The average price of housing in greater London has risen 2.5 per cent over the past month to £407,731, comparing favourably with a national increase of 0.4 per cent to £222,261.

Two of the biggest winners were Westminster and Wandsworth, with sales hikes of seven per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively over January. Brent and Southwark saw the biggest rises on a yearly basis.

Sellers are in a good position to attract high prices and achieve quick sales because of a shortage of housing stock and high customer demand.

Rightmove says the number of available properties per estate agency branch is now just 63 – the lowest since the company began monitoring the housing market in 2000.

Meanwhile, during January Rightmove also reported its busiest ever week in terms of buyers searching for properties.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, commented: “There are definitely some of the ingredients for a buoyant spring, and a window of opportunity that sellers may wish to take advantage of.”

Rightmove’s consumer confidence survey also shows that traditional dampeners of market activity such as the impending election appear to not to be deterring home-movers from completing transactions, with 70 per cent stating that the election would not affect their plans.

Recovery to normal stock and sales levels however is still a long way off with the number of properties being marketed still 40 per cent shy of those recorded in 2007.

Says Shipside: “We estimate that we are now seeing the lowest number of properties on the market this century... buyers have little choice in popular areas, and while this continues sellers have a window of opportunity to obtain a higher price and a speedier sale.”