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Average time to sell a property hits three-year high of 12 weeks

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The time to sell a home in the UK’s biggest cities has reached a three-year high, with properties taking nearly a month longer to shift than they did in 2016, new research shows.

Weak housing market conditions means it now takes vendors more than 12 weeks to sell compared to eight weeks in the period shortly after the EU referendum.

Sellers are also accepting offers that are on average 3.8 per cent or around £10,000 below the initial asking price.

However, the research by property website Zoopla revealed market dynamics vary across cities.

In London, Oxford and Aberdeen – where housing market conditions remain weakest – the average time to sell is more than 14 weeks and the discount required to achieve a sale is just below 5 per cent.

Sellers in London are accepting offers from buyers that are 5.7 per cent below asking price, up form just 1.8 per cent in 2016.

However, in the Midlands and North of England, where house price growth has remained above average, most major cities are registering an average time to sell of between 8.4 and 9.5 weeks. Sellers in these regions are also accepting the smallest asking price discounts of 2 – 3 per cent.

The strongest market conditions are in Scotland, with homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh selling within five to six weeks.

Scotland has a different system for sales transactions, with more information provided to buyers up front.

With properties also typically marketed as ‘offers over’, Glasgow and Edinburgh are the only two UK cities not to register a discount from asking to selling piece, instead commanding an average 6-7 per cent above the asking price.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: “There is a continued polarisation in housing market conditions across the country set by underlying market fundamentals, albeit Brexit uncertainty has been a compounding factor for lower market activity in some areas.

“A General Election seems to be a growing possibility ahead of any Brexit resolution; however, once the political outlook becomes clearer, we would expect a modest bounce-back in demand for a six – 12-month period. Regardless, removing the uncertainty caused by Brexit will do little to address levels of housing affordability, which are limiting market activity across southern England.

“Market conditions are set to remain weak in southern cities until pricing levels adjust to what buyers are willing, or can afford, to pay. London is three years into a re-pricing process, and we expect sales volumes to slowly improve over 2020, while house price growth remains subdued.

“There are large parts of the country where housing affordability remains attractive, fuelled by continued economic growth that supports demand for homes, resulting in reasonable sales periods and only modest gaps between sales and asking prices.”

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