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Low house price falls lead to growing agent optimism

House prices fell by 0.6% in March marking the lowest monthly decline for ten months, the latest data from Hometrack shows.

But the national housing market survey for March also found that over the year prices are down by 10.3%, with weak demand set to keep pushing prices down.

Drawn from 5,900 responses from 1,794 estate agents and surveyors, Hometrack says that despite the annual fall the results do point to some positive signs.

The average time a property is left on the market fell from 12 weeks in February to 11.3 weeks in March.

The percentage of asking prices being achieved rose to 88.8% in March, compared to 88.3% the previous month.

Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, says: “An increase in the volume of sales agreed in the last month, albeit off record low levels, and buyers continuing to register has led to a small but growing sense of optimism among estate agents.”

“While market conditions remain extremely tough and the economic outlook is far from rosy, the net result is that agents are currently marking down prices less aggressively than they were in the autumn when the turmoil in world markets was at its peak.”

But he adds: “This situation could well reverse in the near term as much still depends upon improved consumer confidence, a gradual recovery in mortgage lending and greater stability in the economic outlook.”

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