Available stock levels across Greater London, the east of England, plus the south east and the south west are now 16 per cent higher than this time last year - yet the number of sales is down in all four regions, according to Rightmove.
The average across all four regions is a fall in sales agreed of 10 per cent.
"This increase in the number of properties up for sale should not be misinterpreted as a glut of unsold property, but rather as an increase from the very low number of properties that agents have had on their books in the last few fast-selling years," says Rightmove's housing analyst Miles Shipside.
"While there is still underlying high demand in mass-market sectors, some find that affordability has become over-stretched while others judge that prices have risen beyond their true value. While many properties are still selling, in market sectors where there is now a lot more choice, buyers need enticing by an attractive price or by properties with special finish or appeal. If sellers fail to take this into account, then buyers will choose to buy elsewhere or bide their time," he claims.
By contrast more northern regions - the north west, north east, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, West Midlands plus Wales - saw an 11 per cent fall in the total available stock for sale compared to the same period in 2015, continuing the downward trend over the last few years.
This reduction in choice for buyers hampers their ability to negotiate and gives sellers the confidence to both ask for higher prices and hold out for their asking price. The number of sales agreed have risen by three per cent in these regions compared to the same period a year ago.
"While the number of new-to-the-market sellers is actually up compared to this time last year in all the northern regions, it is failing to keep pace with high buyer demand. Agents report brisk sales in many areas, especially in the mass-market sectors. They say as long as it's not over-priced, the right house in the right area is quickly being snapped up for close to, at, or even over the asking price," says Shipside.
The latest Rightmove house price index based on asking prices, released this morning, says the price of property coming to market has increased by an average 0.9 per cent this month to £309,122, but is still slightly below the all time high reached in June.
In the full month of September sales agreed have recovered after the summer lull and are now down just four per cent nationally compared to the same period in 2015, but up six per cent on 2014. Rightmove says that given the housing market in the second half of 2015 was buoyed by the surprise of a majority government, overall sales activity today seems to be recovering after an especially quiet summer in some southern areas.
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