It forceasts a 0% price change in 2010, with sellers advised to take advantage of expected price rises before a post General Election dip.
Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove said: "This rise in asking prices is an early indicator that new sellers in 2010 have the confidence to try for a higher price, as the index was lined up for a fall until the turn of the year.
"We were expecting a drop of about 1%, as the majority of this month’s index falls in December, but the optimism of those early January sellers flipped it around.
"With home-movers setting new search records on Rightmove and a lack of property for sale, the decision of post New Year sellers to ask for a higher price could be a shrewd move. In spite of problems brewing for later in the year, there are definitely some of the ingredients for a buoyant spring, and a window of opportunity that sellers may wish to take advantage of."
Last month Rightmove predicted a burst of activity and asking price gains in early spring, continuing the heightened level of activity seen during 2009.
The early signs are that the factors that led to the unexpected buoyancy in 2009 are continuing.
In addition, the impending election, a traditional dampener of market activity, is perhaps having less of a negative effect than usual on home-movers’ intentions.
Early findings from the latest Rightmove Consumer Confidence Survey (to be released on Friday) would seem to support this.
Gathering the views of more than 30,000 home-movers, the survey reveals that about 70% of those who intend to move in the coming year do not believe that the election will affect their plans.
While their opinions may change when the details of any future government’s austerity package become clearer, at present there are favourable circumstances which appear to be over-riding such longer-term concerns.
In particular for those who have so far held off selling, the early spring may be the best opportunity to take advantage of the benign conditions that started to emerge during 2009 in spite of the ongoing recession. These factors are still present and indeed show evidence of strengthening in sellers’ favour in the short term.
Shipside said: "Within the shrunken housing market that has become the current norm, there are very active market segments where buyers and sellers who are able to proceed are getting together and are striking deals. While there are political and economic clouds on the horizon, there are signs that we are in for an active spring before the storm breaks later in the year."
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