House sellers cut asking prices

House sellers dropped their asking prices by the biggest percentage ever recorded by a study for the month of August as would-be buyers became engrossed in the Olympics.

Property search website Rightmove said that asking prices saw an "aggressive" 2.4% drop month-on-month to reach £236,260 on average, compared with a typical fall of 1.1% it has measured in August over the last 10 years.

The website also saw plunges of up to 50% in its traffic at key Olympic moments as house hunters became distracted by the sporting events.

It warned that as the tough economy continues, sellers will have to "compete hard" to attract buyers this autumn when activity traditionally picks up after the summer lull, if they want to move house before Christmas.

No regions across the study which covers England and Wales saw a month-on-month increase in asking prices, the first time this has happened since November last year.

The best-performing region on a monthly basis was the North West, where prices were flat at £163,002. Prices dropped by their biggest percentage in the South East, where they fell by 4.2% month-on-month to £302,628.

Prices in London, which has had strong interest from overseas buyers, saw a large 8.8% increase year-on-year to reach £454,875, but on a monthly basis prices fell in the English capital by 1.2%.

House asking prices in Wales dropped by 2.6% month-on-month to reach £162,736. Prices in Wales saw the biggest year-on-year drop, with a fall of 5.2%. On a year-on-year basis, prices across England and Wales were 2% higher in August than they were a year ago.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director said: "The number of new sellers is slightly up on the same period last year, though perhaps as a reflection of their urgency to sell, or to compensate for the distraction of the achievements served up by Team GB, they have dropped their asking prices more aggressively than summer sellers in previous years."

Rightmove said that while its visitor traffic was generally increased during the Olympics compared with the same period last year, search activity was interrupted as people stopped to watch the "relentless" Olympic wins.