Homeowners are more reluctant to put their property up for sale than at any point in the past decade, new research has revealed.
Despite reporting record amounts of search activity since the turn of the new year, Rightmove said the number of new homes being put up for sale has slid to the lowest level ever recorded.
The property website revealed it had hosted more than 44 million property searches during the first ten days of 2012, some 27% more than in the same period last year.
Yet despite this 'pent-up' demand, estate agents are on average marketing less than one new property per week per branch, the lowest number ever reported.
As well as there being less property coming to market, the figures showed there is less available stock already on the market compared to the same period last year.
The average amount of unsold properties per estate agency branch is 66, the lowest measured since February 2010.
Estate agents said prospective sellers are being put off by a combination of a shortage of confidence, lack of choice of property to buy and restrictive mortgage lending.
Although the first week of January witnessed the traditional New Year bounce in asking prices in the form of a 1.4% rise, the data revealed prices were still down 0.8% across the month as a whole.
This has been taken as an early indicator that a new shortage of sellers is likely to underpin prices this year.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said the increasingly fragmented market caused by the credit crunch means that anyone wanting to be successful in selling now has to analyse the particular market they are interested in very carefully, rather than opting for 'a wishful price-punt to see what happens'.
"There can be hotspots and blackspots by property type within the same geographic location depending on local buyer confidence, demographics and their ability to obtain a mortgage, so doing your research and taking expert advice are critical," he added.
"There will be upwards price pressure where the local market is short of a type or style of stock.
"In these areas, getting your property onto the market soon could be to a seller's advantage given the strong upsurge in property search activity."
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