London property being snapped up as quickly as before 2007 crisis - Hometrack

LONDON Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:11am BST

A woman sits at a window in London April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A woman sits at a window in London April 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - Property in London is being snapped more quickly than at any time since October 2007 when the market hit its peak before the financial crisis, according to figures from real estate data firm Hometrack.

Homes in London were typically on the market for 4.6 weeks in April - nearly half the period of more than eight weeks seen at the end of 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. Sellers achieved more than 95 percent of their asking price, also a level not seen since 2007.

Property prices in the capital rose 0.7 percent in April, matching March which was the biggest jump since Feb 2010. Prices in England and Wales rose 0.3 percent, also the joint-biggest rise in three years.

Hometrack's findings, based on 5,000-6,000 completed questionnaires covering all postcode districts in England and Wales, come as concerns grow that recent government initiatives could fuel a new house price bubble.

The government's Help to Buy programme, unveiled in its March budget, and its Funding for Lending scheme, launched with the Bank of England last summer and expanded last week, are both likely to boost mortgage lending and help buyers with small deposits get on the property ladder.

Richard Donnell, Hometrack's director of research, noted there had been a marked decline in reports of mortgage availability acting as a barrier to purchase, a direct result, he said, of the Funding for Lending Scheme.

"In each of the last three months the growth in supply has failed to keep pace with demand," he said.

Property prices in Britain didn't fall as sharply as most parts of Europe and the United States during the financial crisis, and are already testing historically high levels relative to income.

House prices in London have also been supported by international demand, with the market seen as a safe haven at a time of uncertainty in the euro area.

(Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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