North's home sellers forced to cut prices by a third, says survey

People wanting to sell their homes in the North are having to cut asking prices by up to 30% to find a buyer, it was revealed today.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said there was a new reality settling on the property market.

Tom McClelland, a spokesman for the RICS, said: “Where people are prepared to bite the bullet and face up to reality, there are sales – there is quite a bit of pent up demand out there.

“Where builders and ordinary sellers have cut prices by between 25% and 30% they have been getting sales.”

The property investors had left the market, he said, and the reduced prices had put the average property price more in kilter with the average income of the first time buyer.

However the latest RICS housing market survey showed the property market was still languishing in the doldrums with the vast majority of members – 91% - reporting prices dropping for the 14th straight month.

And many big cuts in the asking prices of houses have so far failed to provide the hoped for kick-start to the local market, said the RICS.

The numbers of properties changing hands at the moment is just a trickle with potential buyers continuing to be worried about being caught with negative equity if prices continue their downward trend and others hit by the cut on lending by mortgage providers.

It said the expected increase in sales activity after sellers made large reductions in asking prices – and lenders offered to support first time buyers - may take longer than expected to materialise.

Mr McClelland said: “The global financial market turmoil and the deteriorating economic picture have clearly dented consumer confidence which has inevitably fed through into the local housing market.

However the cut in interest rates by the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee last week, expected further cuts to come and moves to restore confidence in financial markets should help build confidence after what the RICS said had been a “challenging” September for its members.

It reported: “Sales are being made where asking prices reflect the new reality, but sales numbers are still low by normal standards.”

It was in July last year when the RICS last reported a majority of members reporting rising prices.

Derek Wilson, head of mortgages at the Ulster Bank which sponsors the monthly survey, said support being offered to first time buyers to help them onto the property ladder was important to the market as a whole.

Home owners stood to benefit from last week’s interest rate cut which would also support greater purchasing activity in the market, he added.

“However, with consumers feeling significant strain resulting from increasing household costs and other financial pressures it is vitally important that they ensure they are benefiting from the most suitable products and rates available for their individual circumstances.”

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