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U.K. asking prices kicked off 2023 with the largest increase logged at this time of year since before the pandemic started, in what may be a tentative sign of stability for the market, according to a report Monday from Rightmove.

On the heels of two months of declining values, the average asking price for new listings ticked up by 0.9% to £362,438 (US$443,462) in the four weeks between Dec. 4 and Jan. 7, as New Year sellers tested the market, the online property portal said.

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Asking prices usually rise in January, and “the seasonal increase in new-seller asking prices this January from December is particularly encouraging for movers who are looking for the reassurance of familiar trends and a calmer, more measured market,” Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, said in the report. He added that it was a positive change from the “chaotic economic climate of the final few months of last year.”

Despite the uptick, asking prices remain £8,720 less than their October peak, he added.

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In a further positive sign, the number of prospective buyers contacting agents was up 4% compared to the same period in 2019, and up by 55% compared with the two weeks before Christmas, the biggest New Year bounce since 2016.

Though, demand was still down by 36% compared to last year.

“Given that the pause for Christmas came unexpectedly early last year, it was important to see whether buyers and sellers would pick up their plans again at the beginning of this year or wait to see what the first few months might bring,” Mr. Bannister said. “The numbers certainly suggest that activity has bounced back after Christmas.

He said he expects the mortgage rate increases and lack of affordability to hold back some segments of the market over the next six months. “But our leading market indicators may start to identify some green shoots of growth that will go on to strengthen in the second half of 2023,” he added.

By Liz Lucking

Source: Mansion Global

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