The number of properties successfully sold at auction has fallen to its lowest level for three years, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
RICS says tighter lending conditions and uncertainty over the outlook for house prices are driving buyers away from auction houses.
According to RICS, just 57% of property successfully sold at auction during the final quarter of 2007, down from 69% in the same period of 2006.
A total of 4,539 properties were sold at action in the final three months of 2007, a fall of 9% compared with the previous quarter.
Oliver Gilmartin, economist at RICS, says: “Fears over further house price falls have taken some stimulus out of achieved sales at the auction house as specialist lending has all but evaporated. While lots offered at auction have stabilised, we expect a tougher year for many at the margins in 2008 as mortgage providers become more selective.”
The number of properties offered at auction is near historically high levels at 7,732 in the last quarter. During 2007, the number of properties offered at auction rose 15%, while the number of repossessed properties rose 20%, which RICS says could indicate many people are putting their homes under the hammer as they struggle to service their mortgages.
RICS says London and the southern counties have seen some of the sharpest slowdowns, as buyers begin to show doubts over the size of city bonuses and the financing of debt.
Figures suggest auction success rates in the Southern areas have fallen to 63% in late 2007, down from 80% during the same period in 2006.
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