UK govt needs to do more for the struggling property market

There are tentative signs that recent intervention by the government may be having an effect on the struggling UK property market but much more help is needed, according to the national body for estate agents.

Members of the National Association of Estate Agents face challenging times but the number of sales per agent in September rose slightly to six compared with five in August.

The organisation believes it could be a sign of the re-emergence of first time buyers but it is not enough to have any real impact.

'It is clear that certain factors are in motion within the property market. But as property prices continue to drop the Government needs to take action and make some drastic changes to restore confidence,' said Chris Brown, president of the NAEA.

'Despite some positive indicators, consumers are still cautious with many continuing to adopt a wait and see attitude and are only moving if it is necessary. Those who are not desperate to move are staying put in their homes and waiting for some stability to be restored across all sections of the market.

'First time buyers however, seem to be returning. This is most likely due to the Government's recent decision on stamp duty. For those first time buyers who have the correct finances in place, now is the perfect time to buy a home,' he added.

In September the average time between instruction and sale rose to 14.13 weeks from 8.64 in September 2007, which indicates that agents need to work so much harder to secure a sale.

The number of house hunters continues to increase with the average number of house hunters on agents books rising slightly from 207 in August to 211 in September, suggesting that there are still buyers who are interested in buying and/or who need to move.

There are also signs that vendors are becoming more realistic according to NAEA member Richard Hair from Essex. 'Property owners are now really starting to appreciate the difficulties in selling and in many, many cases, are making substantial reductions on their asking prices. There is now a clear understanding that it is best to sell at a low price today rather than wait for an even lower one in the coming months,' he said.

Agents who also have a lettings business report an increase in volumes. 'The rentals side is doing very well, most agents are extremely busy. Values are fairly static, more empty properties are coming onto the market from landlords unable to sell. In some cases the tenants are spoilt for choice and properties are therefore taking a bit longer to let,' said Colin Girling from Suffolk.