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Fewer ‘tyre kickers’ in housing market as less serious home movers sit out

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

The housing market has fewer “tyre kickers” this autumn, as those who are less serious about buying and selling are sitting it out, according to a report.

Estate agents said the prevalence of “must-movers” in the property market rather than people who are trying their luck is leading to fewer sales falling through.

The number of sellers is down by 13.5% compared with a year ago – perhaps because some are waiting for a greater opportunity to maximise their money, Rightmove said.

It suggested that some potential sellers are perhaps being deterred by the lack of price momentum.

Rightmove’s house price index shows average asking prices across Britain (Rightmove/PA)

Despite the large fall in sellers, the proportion of sales agreed that have fallen through so far this year is the lowest since 2015 – in a sign that those who are buying and selling are focused on making transactions go through.

There is usually an “autumn bounce” in the price sellers are demanding around this time of year as housing market activity increases between the lulls of summer holidays and Christmas.

But Rightmove said that in October the average price of property coming to market saw its lowest monthly rise at this time of year since October 2008, up by just 0.6%, or £1,942.

Across Britain, the average asking price in October stood at £306,712.

Rightmove’s report quoted the views of estate agents.

Marc von Grundherr, director of lettings at estate agent Benham and Reeves, said that while many sellers have been hesitating, “a healthy level of sales are still transacting, and this is proof that the UK property market is yet to disappear down the Brexit abyss.

“With only the serious home buyer and seller deciding to enter the fray, we’re seeing less tyre kickers and as a result, a reduction in the number of sales falling through, which is another positive to take from the current climate.”

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said: “Although the UK is yet to experience an autumn bounce it doesn’t mean one isn’t on its way.

“Today’s data shows that sales aren’t falling through as regularly as they have been, which suggests that the market is currently being driven by must-movers.”

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: “Some sellers are speculative, encouraged to try their luck if they judge that the market has a degree of froth which might increase their chances of banking a high price.

“With upwards pricing power now pretty flat, some sellers who are motivated by maximising their money seem to be holding back.”