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by administrator @, Monday, January 30, 2012, 10:29

Six in ten home-movers believe that it is currently a buyers' market and only 13% believe the odds are in favour of sellers, a 'market balance ratio' in excess of 5:1 in favour of buyers, according to Rightmove.

Rightmove's first Consumer Confidence Survey of 2012 finds that the proportion of those forecasting prices to be the same or higher in 12 months' time has edged up to 66% from 62% a year ago. The survey also finds that the majority of the public believes that the balance of power currently lays firmly with buyers, with 60% of the view that it is a 'buyers' market' and just 13% a 'sellers' market'.

However, deeper analysis shows that both findings mask some significant regional and local variations which provide further evidence of an acute north-south divide and a property market pock-marked with localised micro-markets.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "Our survey shows that sellers in the south should have more reason to be confident than those in the north, though even within regions there is evidence of variations in confidence in localised micro-markets. In these micro-markets, the combined impacts of demographics, employment and mix of stock go a long way to determining the local market confidence and, in turn, market performance."

Since the third quarter of 2010, home-movers' views on the outlook for property prices have been divided, with little sign of an obviously dominant view. This quarter, the 'price pessimists' who expect prices to be lower in 12 months' time (30%) continue to outnumber the 'price optimists' who expect prices to be higher (25%). However, the gap between the two has narrowed at a national level compared to both last quarter and last year.

There are, however, some notable regional differences and evidence of a clear north-south divide. For example, in London around one in three (34%) expect prices to be higher in 12 months' time compared to just one in five (20%) in Wales. Analysis at town and city level reveals some even starker contrasts. Compare South West London, for example, where two in five expect prices to be higher in 12 months' time (40%) with Blackpool where just around one in seven (14%) are similarly optimistic on price. Indeed, all of the top 20 towns where residents are most bullish about prices are in the south and 17 of the 20 locations most pessimistic on prices are in the north.

Shipside added: "On the surface it looks as though potential home movers are feeling a bit more positive about the outlook for property prices. However, hidden beneath is the real story that different market segments are performing very differently and that in all probability your price predictions will depend on your own local micro-market. While parts of the stock-starved south, and London in particular, are feeling relatively bullish about prices, the turmoil of the last few years has wreaked havoc in parts of the buyer-blocked north."

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