Housing recovery means UK properties selling faster, research shows

The average time it takes to sell a property in the UK is becoming shorter, currently 58 days, some 11 days less than a year ago, according to new research which also suggests that the north south property divide is dissolving.

Properties in Liverpool and Southend-on-Sea spend the least amount of time on the market, beating London, with Hull and Leicester being the slowest performers, according to the research by Post Office mortgages.

Whilst some regions, such as Plymouth, Brighton, Bristol and Derby, are not yet seeing robust growth in house prices, falling average times to sell a property points to improving market conditions in these areas, its report says.

On average it now takes just over eight weeks to sell a home in the and although London remains the best performing property market, its performance overshadows a strong recovery occurring in many other areas, particularly cities outside the South East of England.

Property owners in Birmingham especially have been benefiting from improved market conditions. Over the last year they have experienced on average a 16% fall in the time it takes to sell their home and a 2.6% rise in price.

Some Northern cities such as Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester are also showing signs of improvement despite slow price growth. The average time a property spends on the market in the North West for example has fallen from 90 days to 62 days over the last 12 months, indicating that demand for homes in this region is firming.

The report points out that  Liverpool in particular is recovering well, with properties in this part of the country currently only needing an average of 18 days to be sold, down 63% from last year and a whole two weeks less than London.

Elsewhere in England, cities including Plymouth, Brighton, Bristol and Derby, have seen falls greater than 15% in their rate of sale. Even though some of these markets have not yet seen robust price growth, the falling average time to sell a property in these markets points to improving conditions.

However a number of cities have yet to show signs of a rebound in their housing markets. Swansea and Leicester for instance are both experiencing the double whammy of negative price growth and a lengthening of time it takes to sell a property.

The outlook for Hull is particularly gloomy. Over the last year home owners in the city have experienced a 2% decrease in property prices and a staggering 240% rise in the time it takes to sell. It now takes home owners in Hull a full 80 days more to sell a property than home owners in London, nearly a quarter of a year.

‘2013 has been a real turning point in the UK housing market with annual house price growth currently 3.4%, the highest level it has been since November 2010,’ said John Willcock, head of Post Office Mortgages.

‘But house price data alone often hides a broader picture of recovery. This encouraging fall in the time it now takes to sell a property, especially in areas where house prices have long remained sluggish, shows that real confidence is returning to housing markets in many cities across the UK,’ he added.