THE average time a house is on the market has risen from 15 to 17 weeks, the second-quarter FNB estate agents' survey showed on Monday.

John Loos, FNB household sector and property strategist, said 87% of properties were being sold at less than the asking price. This was a slight improvement from 90% in the first quarter and 88% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The survey is conducted among a sample of estate agents predominantly in South Africa's major metro regions.

The balance between demand and supply in the residential market deteriorated due to slowing demand and availability of properties for sale.

The survey showed that the average percentage by which buyers wanted a property's price to drop decreased from 13% to 10%.

One of the reasons for this decline could be the increase in the confidence of sellers.

"And this may in turn be causing the slightly longer average time on the market," Mr Loos said.

There was, however, still a high percentage of sellers who ultimately had to drop their asking price, pointing to a widespread lack of pricing realism.

Another factor was a decline in the percentage of first-time buyers, from 25% in the first quarter to 20% in the second quarter of 2012. This, Mr Loos said, was due to significant financial pressure on households.

Also, 20% of sellers were downscaling due to financial pressure. The percentage of sellers wanting to upgrade declined from 17% to 15%.

Mr Loos said the survey showed an overall impression of a "mild weakening in the market".

Sapa