Prices dropping for traditional first-buy homes

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Prices of smaller terraced houses are falling, because fewer first-time buyers can get a mortgage.

But the value of detached homes is rising because buyers have more money and there is a shortage of supply in some areas, says a new survey.

According to property website Rightmove, the average asking price for a terraced home dipped from £180,030 in March 2010 to £177,422 this year.

Prices have fallen each month this year even though 31 per cent fewer homes are going on sale at this bottom end of the market compared with the peak of the boom in 2007.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “The target audience of first-time buyers for terraced houses are stuck in rented accommodation, with 30 per cent of them in our recent survey expecting to stay there for three years or more.

“Yield-hungry buy-to-let investors or buyers with gifted deposits are the main hopes for a terraced home seller.”

By contrast, prices of detached houses are slowly rising, from £229,600 in March 2010 to nearly £232,000 today.

Miles added: “Lower-density townhouses, semis and detached houses are where demand remains stronger from buyers who still have access to finance. Those property types are now entering builders’ production lines.

“In 2009 the mix ratio of new build flats and house styles advertised on Rightmove was circa 50:50; today it is 70:30 in favour of houses.”

Miles said builders have drastically switched their focus to higher levels of the housing market.

“The hope that a market pick-up would lead to a proportionate increase in new build units will not be realised.

“Having been stuck with too many flats by planning authority pressure, developers now need to build what the lenders will lend on and buyers want to buy.”

Rightmove thinks detached homeowners have, so far, largely avoided the downturn. Average prices for detached properties going on sale are up 3.1 per cent, year-on-year.

The website says there are also marked regional contrasts in house price movements in the past year.

Falls in the North (-2.4 per cent), North West (-3.4 per cent), Yorkshire and Humberside (-3.4 per cent) are more than balanced by rises in the West Midlands (1.7 per cent), East Midlands (0.3 per cent), East Anglia (2.7 per cent), Greater London (1.6 per cent), South East (3.3 per cent) and South West (1.0 per cent).

There are swings and roundabouts in Greater London too: Kingston-on-Thames has surged 13 per cent in a year (to an average £593,158) while City of Westminster has jumped 10.7 per cent to £1.33m. Camden is up by 8.4 per cent to £836,400, while Hillingdon, Middlesex, shows a 5.5 per cent jump to £345,600.

Curiously, some of the biggest fallers are among the London boroughs which might appear well-placed to benefit from the 2012 London Olympics.

They include Newham (-12.1 per cent to £223,251); Kensington and Chelsea (-7.0 per cent to £1.77m); Tower Hamlets (-5.5 per cent to £371,117) and Greenwich (-5.8 per cent to £256,400).

Hackney appears to be the only bright spot in Olympics territory: it is up 4.5 per cent to £490,700.

Falling prices for the past eight months means the value of the average home has fallen by 11.09 per cent since last summer, says property website Zoopla.co.uk. That means a loss of £26,240 per home in England, £21,500 in Scotland and £17,200 in Wales.

Across Britain, says Zoopla, average house prices are now 18.01 per cent (£45,594) below their peak at £201,911 compared to £247,505 in October 2007.

The dip during the past eight months could have created a buying opportunity, if prices start to pick up later this year.

The North East has been hardest hit in recent months, down 14.12 per cent since July to an average £146,242. London, the most resilient, is down 7.59 per cent to an average £378,295 .

Zoopla.co.uk director Nick Leeming says: “While it has been a challenging period for the property market over the past few months, the recent dip in prices and the notable variance between regions may have created some interesting buying opportunities.

“The first half of 2010 provided strong gains in market values but, since last summer, economic uncertainty and lending constraints have eroded these gains and put downward pressure on house prices.”