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Olympics 'distracted' buyers in Britain's housing market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 2:45am

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Home sellers in Britain reduced the asking prices for a third month in September as the property market failed to cope with the "distractions" of the London 2012 Olympics, according to Rightmove.

Average asking prices in England and Wales fell 0.6 per cent, after declining 2.4 per cent in August, the operator of Britain's biggest property website said in a report in London today.

From a year earlier, values were up 0.7 per cent to an average £234,858 (HK$3.3 million).

"Summer sellers have had some very stiff competition, not only from competing sellers chopping their prices but also from the Olympics extravaganza, which has been more compelling for many than viewing property," Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said.

Mortgage lender Halifax last week said the housing market was continuing to "tread water" as the economy struggles to recover from a recession and prospective buyers face a challenge in raising a deposit. It reported a 0.4 per cent drop in prices in August, while the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said gauges continued to point to a "sluggish" property market.

Nationally, eight out of the 10 regions in England and Wales tracked by Rightmove posted monthly price drops.

House prices in London rose 0.3 per cent in September from August and were up 6.6 per cent from a year earlier. Monthly gains in the capital were led by Enfield, Redbridge and Ealing. The biggest declines were in Kingston, Richmond and Islington.

In an analysis of national prices since the crisis at Northern Rock five years ago, Rightmove said home prices were little changed. That compares with a 55 per cent surge in values in the previous five years.

Still, within the price "standstill" since 2007, Rightmove said the winners include homeowners in London, who have seen values surge 18.7 per cent.

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