According to online property portal Rightmove, it’s been a busy start to 2018 with an increase in ‘home-hunter’ activity, with visits to the website up 9% on January of last year so far – an average of 4 million per a day.

While online visits alone aren’t enough to keep the UK market ticking over, Rightmove have also reported that buyers are listing their property with asking prices marginally higher than this time last year as well, up 0.7% with an almost identical number of properties entering the market.

Looking across the UK, the North West has seen the most explosive start to 2018 with the average asking price up 2.4% since December. The South West (1.6%), the West Midlands (1.4%), the South East (1.2%), Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands (0.8%) have all also seen an increase in asking prices.

In contrast, Scotland has seen the largest fall month on month of -4.4%, followed the North East (-2.7%) and London (-1.4%). Wales and the East of England have also seen a slight decline.

Rightmove have credited this drop in the capital as ‘new-to-market sellers’ trying to tempt New Year buyers into a sale with property coming onto the market now 3.5% cheaper than a year ago as the market continues to adjust to slower market conditions.

But with the London market as diverse in its own right as the UK as a whole, this asking price decline is largely concentrated to Zone 2 (-6.4%) and Zone 3 (-7.7%). Zone 4 and Zone 6 have both enjoyed increases with Zone 1 remaining flat.

According to Rightmove, buyers are still price sensitive and those with a property suitable for first-time buyers should have a greater chance of selling after last Autumn’s reform to stamp duty. At Emoov this goes without saying and is good advice whatever time of the year. Pricing a house correctly and realistically will always aid your sale and first-time buyer properties often have the best chance of selling due to the first-time buyer themselves not being caught up in a lengthy property chain.

Promising signs to see buyer demand returning in abundance after the Christmas but a bit of a mixed bag otherwise with many of London’s previously best performing areas seeing a decline in monthly price trends.

Like most of us, it will take the market a while to get up and running again after the break and find its stride so January’s market performance rarely sets a trend for the year ahead in terms of its accuracy.

Once the market does build momentum, we will no doubt see asking prices start to creep back up as buyer demand levels continue to strengthen and sellers adjust their expectations in line with his.

Russell Quirk

Founder and CEO , Emoov.co.uk

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