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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Number of towns with house sale increases doubles

The number of towns that have seen an increase in home sales has more than doubled since last year.

Lloyds TSB looked at 500 towns across England and Wales and found that 324 of them – 65 per cent – had seen an increase in sales in the first half of this year.

That is more than twice the proportion during the first half of 2011. That year only 151 of the 500 towns – 30 per cent of them – had seen an increase in sales.

One reason being offered is a continuing decline in house prices, making more of them affordable. Prices in the 10 areas that saw the biggest increases in sales have fallen by an average of seven per cent over the past four years.

“Many of the top performing towns are in areas where improved levels of affordability over recent years have helped support demand for those able to enter the housing market,” says Suren Thiru, Lloyds TSB housing economist.

However the local figures show a different picture. According to the Land Registry, the number of completed house sales in Cumbria in the first half of the year stood at 2,586. In the first half of last year the number of completions was 2,587 – almost unchanged.

Registry figures also show that prices have fallen in Cumbria by around five per cent in that period. In June 2011 the average Cumbrian house sold at £129,214 whereas in June this year it was £122, 135.

Nick Elgey, managing director of Cumberland estate agents, says business in his agency reflects the Land Registry picture, with the number of sales virtually static between this year and last.

“You’ve seen a price fall but you haven’t seen a increase in sales volume on the back of it,” he says.

Steve Hardaker, director of Allan estate agents in Carlisle, says he has sold more houses this year but argues that falling prices aren’t the only factor.

“There’s still plenty of activity in the job market here, so people are still moving up. There are some people who have now got deposits, and others who have been waiting a long time to sell have now sold so are buying on.”

According to more research, sellers should beware of over-pricing during the autumn market, even if they are prepared to drop it during negotiations. Rightmove have found that 62 per cent of home-hunters won’t view a property they regard as over-priced even if it is otherwise ideal.

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