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Property prices continued to edge up in January but the number of sales agreed was down 5.5 per cent from a year ago, according to Rightmove.

Data from the online property portal showed the average price of properties coming to market increased 0.7 per cent, or £2,067, over the past month.

While sales numbers slipped in the final quarter of 2017, the site recorded a 9 per cent year-on-year increase in traffic in January, suggesting demand is starting to pick up.

Overall prices were up 1.1 per cent over the past year to a national average of £297,587.

In the north west they grew by 2.3 per cent in January to an average of £187,134, while the south west saw prices climb 1.6 per cent to an average of £294,046.

But four regions saw prices decline in the month, down 4.4 per cent to an average of £139,156 in Scotland and by 2.7 per cent to an average of £141,155 in the north east.

Rightmove, which saw four million visits to its site each day in January, said demand was robust but buyers were being “very choosy”.

The average number of days it takes to sell a property leapt to 67 in December, from just 54 in May last year.

Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove, said: “Setting tempting asking prices and quickly reducing them if there is little initial interest will be key to turning this promising level of buyer activity into actual sales.”

He said those selling to first-time buyers stood the greatest chances of a successful sale, with demand picking up after the government’s decision to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000.

Craig McKinlay, sales and marketing director at Kensington Mortgages, said it was positive to see house prices rising in line with wage inflation at a far more sustainable rate.

Jeremy Duncombe, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “We have a lot more to be positive about that in previous years: house prices are rising at a far more sustainable rate and, couple this with the exemption of stamp duty and government schemes, and it is no surprise first-time buyer levels are at an 11-year high.”

Source: FT Adviser

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