February bounce in housing market activity
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by Gill Montia
February saw a marked improvement in housing market conditions in England and Wales, according to Hometrack, with the number of buyers registering with estate agents up 18%, compared to January.
Activity levels were boosted by first-time buyers looking to complete before the ending of the stamp duty concession (24th March), and on a regional basis buyer numbers increased notably in the south east (+28%) and south west (+22%).
The stock of homes for sale increased by only 10% during February, allowing shortage of supply to underpin pricing.
Overall prices remained flat in February, with a small increase in London offsetting falls across six regions of England and Wales and static prices across three.
However, the proportion of asking price achieved increased to 92.9%, up 0.4% on January, and the average time a vendor spent on the market fell from 10.2 weeks to 9.9 weeks but with a clear north / south divide in the time taken to sell.
Looking ahead, Hometrack reckons that the fundamentals facing the housing market remain largely unchanged.
A lack of housing for sale should therefore underpin prices in the short-term, especially while market activity is supported by a rush to beat the deadline for the stamp duty concession.
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