HOUSE prices fell sharply in Liverpool last year.
Estate agents confirmed the market had declined as figures released yesterday by Nationwide showed city properties suffered the third- largest fall in value in the UK in 2012 to an average £144,050.
Liverpool was ahead of only Manchester and Bradford in the national league table, suffering an 8% drop overall.
Agents said they were hoping first-time buyers would seize the opportunity to get on the housing ladder in the coming months.
Frances Lyons, sales consultant at City Residential, said sellers who bought at the top of the market were finding it harder than ever to get their money back.
She added: “The city centre market is not fantastic at the moment.
“There are still sales going through and in fact we have already agreed two in 2013, but it tends to be sellers who are more realistic about the price they might achieve who are finding it easier to sell.
“We had a drop last year and people are realising the market in Liverpool has fallen and will not be getting back to where it was. At the moment it is very much a buyer’s market.”
Naomi Hardy, sales manager at BE Property Services in Woolton, said the picture outside the city centre is similar, with first-time buyers beginning to be attracted back.
She said: “Over the past couple of years we have mainly been dealing with property investors at the lower end of the market, but we are beginning to see more young couples coming into the office to browse and being added to our mailing list.
“We are hoping this news will encourage people looking to buy a first property in 2013, though it is very early days this year to be able to tell.”
Nationwide’s figures from the final quarter of 2012 showed Merseyside as a whole saw a 5% drop in prices in the run-up to Christmas.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said the market was likely to remain sluggish as the year went on.
He said: “With the economic recovery expected to remain fairly weak, the housing market is likely to be characterised by low levels of activity again in 2013, with prices remaining flat or modestly lower over the course of the year.”
Eleven out of 13 UK regions saw annual prices fall during 2012. London recorded the strongest house price increase of all the regions, with prices up by 0.7% at the end of 2012 compared with a year earlier.
Last week figures released by rival building society Halifax said house prices in Wirral fell by 9.3%. They said the average selling price in the borough was £160,375.