Mortgage approvals are down, houses are on the market at 'unrealistic' prices seen during the 'peak Covid-era' - but it is not all doom and gloom, according to one estate agent who has mapped out how long a house takes to sell in different areas of the borough.

David Warburton at Burton James said that estate agents were 'navigating a particularly challenging market' but houses were still selling.

He told The Bolton News: "This information is not to paint doom and gloom because houses are still selling, contrary to some negative reports. But now more than ever, your marketing has to stand out and you need to price according to this new market.

"There are still plenty of buyers out there and what we are seeing is a more normalised market. In fact, a lot of the statistical data issued by the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla, mirrors that of 2019, which is perceived to be the last ‘normal’ year."

David said that numerous properties on the market are still listed at their peak Covid-era prices which are no longer realistic, as he presented the results of how long a house, on average,takes to sell in Bolton  - and how long 'overpriced' houses can stay on the market.

In his experience on average, once a buyer is secured for a property, the process, typically lasts between 12-20 weeks.

"While it can sometimes be expedited, it's rare for transactions to fall outside of this timeframe," said David

David looked at each postcode in Bolton to determine the amount of time it takes to sell a house from the moment it hits the market to when it goes under offer.

The estate agent said the number of unsold houses were ‘highly unlikely’ to sell if they not priced to reflect the current market, hence buyers seeing 'price reduced' a number of times.
Prices have begun to decline in areas like Bolton and Bury, said David.

He added: "Some locales fare better than others, but the overall context is essential. 
"Between January 2020 and December 2022—often referred to as the "Covid years"—official Land Registry data reveals a staggering 36 per cent price increase across Bolton. 


"To contextualise this surge: between January 2010 and December 2019, prices in Bolton only rose by 24 per cent, averaging 2.4 per cent annually.

"This means that in just three years, prices escalated at five times the annual rate of the preceding decade. Therefore, the recent price reduction is better understood as a market correction rather than a crash, contrary to some media portrayals.

"What fuelled this substantial price increase? Record-low interest rates made borrowing more affordable. The government introduced stamp duty holidays, and the furlough scheme ensured income stability during lockdowns.

"With reduced expenditures on travel, entertainment, and daily luxuries, many people found themselves saving more.

"This, combined with a growing desire for more space, prompted them to consider new property options. As a result, demand far outstripped supply, and homes often sold at unprecedented premiums."

David said: "However, the landscape is shifting. With 14 consecutive interest rate hikes taking the current rate to 5.25 per cent, many homeowners who purchased properties in the last three years will soon face significantly higher repayments. While some will adjust or endure, others, unfortunately, will struggle and feel compelled to sell—sometimes at a loss. 

"When distressed sellers offload properties at reduced prices, it can trigger a domino effect, potentially driving down the value of neighbouring properties.

"Numerous properties are still listed at their peak Covid-era prices, but these values are no longer realistic. Although recent Land Registry data (indicating a 2.9 per cent year-on-year increase in Bolton) might seem encouraging, it's somewhat outdated. The current data reflects

"August completions, which could pertain to sales agreed upon several months earlier."

David said that mortgage approvals have decreased nationally by 37.3 per cent year-on-year, so there are nowhere near as many buyers out there looking for houses. 

He added: "And both the Nationwide and Halifax index the market at -5.3 per cent and -4.7%, respectively. 

"Therefore, many properties currently on the market are likely overpriced by around five percent or more. Of course, this isn't an exact science and can vary based on an estate agent's valuations. However, for the luxury market, this data might be less pertinent, as cash buyers frequently seek and purchase unique and prestigious homes."