Bigger than expected summer lull sees price reductions climb to 12-year high: Rightmove

Average new seller asking prices remain lower than is usual for this time of year following a marginal increase of 0.4% with the market remaining largely subdued as we head into 'peak season', according to this morning's data from Rightmove.

Related topics:  Property,  Housing Market,  Rightmove,  Asking Prices
Property | Reporter
18th September 2023
For Sale 115
"As we enter a key selling season, more people who have been thinking about what they need from a home and where they want to be living next year and beyond are taking action and coming to market"
- Tim Bannister - Rightmove

With the market remaining muted over the month, average asking prices of newly marketed properties managed a slight increase of +0.4% to stand at £366,281. Prices have risen at this time of year in all but three of Rightmove's September reports since 2001, and it is smaller than the average of 0.6% recorded in the same period over the past ten years.

While Rightmove suggests that some sellers are clearly being too optimistic about their pricing, others do appear to be pricing correctly from the outset. As expected, the annual rate of change has continued its downward trajectory, which means that prices are still on track to meet predictions of a 2% fall over the year as a whole.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister says: “It’s been a slower than usual August, so all eyes will be on market activity over the next few weeks, which will set the trend for the rest of the year.

"The combination of 14 consecutive Bank of England interest rate rises and many buyers and sellers still catching up on lost pandemic holidays has contributed to a bigger than expected summer lull, though we still anticipate an autumn bounce.

"Market conditions still vary considerably in different locations, and so a local estate agent will be best placed to advise sellers to give them the best chance of finding a buyer this autumn.”

New sellers

New seller activity was on the quiet side over the month, with the number of new properties coming up for sale 6% lower than the ten-year average. Buyer enquiries remained stable, down just 1% against 2019.

However, economic conditions, holiday distractions, and depleted stock levels all contributed to the number of sales agreed to fall further, from 15% down against 2019 in July to 18% down in August.


The first-time-buyer sector has consistently outperformed the larger home sectors since February, with this trend continuing in August. Sales agreed in this sector of two-bedrooms and fewer were down by 13% against August 2019, and encouragingly buyer enquiries in this sector were up by 1%.

Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates continuing their downward decline could help some first-time buyers, as although things are still tough for many, there have now been seven consecutive weeks of falling mortgage rates. Average five-year fixed rates across all loan-to-value ratios are now 5.67%, down from 6.11% at their peak back in July. With house prices and mortgage rates falling, and average earnings increasing, we are continuing to take small steps towards improved buyer affordability.

Price reductions

Promisingly, many sellers reacted to the summer holiday hiatus by reducing the asking prices of their properties to help attract a buyer. The five-year pre-pandemic average for the proportion of properties that have had at least one price reduction is 31.2%.

That number has risen to 36.3%, which is the highest recorded since January 2011. Similarly, the average size of the price reduction was also the highest since January 2011 at 6.2%, versus the five-year pre-pandemic average of 5.5%.

This level of reduction applied to the average asking price of £366,281 would be £22,709, suggesting that some sellers were too optimistic on their initial asking prices and have had to make some bigger than usual adjustments.

Stock levels

There is still not a glut of homes for sale, with the number of available properties down by 7% when compared with 2019, but things are improving for buyers looking for more choices now that most holidays have ended and kids are back at school.

The number of new properties coming to market was up by 12% in the first week of September when compared with the unusually low weekly average in August.

Looking by sector, the first-time buyer sector saw new listings up by a smaller 7%, which may be helping to support prices in this sector where asking prices are still up on this time last year, albeit by a muted 0.3%.

New listings in the second stepper sector are up by 11% against the same period, and the top of the ladder, although a smaller proportion of the overall market, has seen new listings up by 24%.

Tim Bannister comments: “As we enter a key selling season, more people who have been thinking about what they need from a home and where they want to be living next year and beyond are taking action and coming to market.

"This has helped to improve buyer choice, especially for those looking for larger homes, which also means that new sellers in the middle and upper sectors need to be extra careful not to set their price expectations too high. Plenty of sales are being agreed for properties that are priced at the right level, and those that are selling are still taking five days less than at this time in 2019.

"We’re also seeing the number of fall-throughs decline as market conditions and mortgage rates stabilise.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, adds: “The bank rate is approaching its peak as the autumn season gets underway for the UK housing market, which is good timing.

"The bad news is that buyer confidence has been badly damaged by the volatility of the last 12 months. A strong jobs market, lender flexibility and the prevalence of fixed-rate deals in recent years will all curb price declines but stability is needed to improve sentiment, which is the all-important lubricant in the housing market.

"Even once rates peak, the adjustment to higher borrowing costs and the looming general election mean that we don’t expect a housing market firing on all cylinders. We don’t anticipate a cliff-edge moment for prices but a single-digit decline this year is likely to be repeated next year.”

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