Pent-up demand after Covid lockdown fuels UK house sales surge | Real estate

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More homes in Britain are selling within a week of being put on the market than at any time over the past 10 years, according to data from the property listing website Rightmove.

Pent-up demand for moves after lockdown and a stamp duty holiday on some homes have fuelled the property market over the summer – traditionally a quiet time for sales – with activity and prices both reaching new highs.

Rightmove’s analysis of more than 225,000 homes sold between 8 July, when stamp duty was cut in England and Northern Ireland, and 31 August revealed a surge in deals being agreed within a week.

The number of homes being “sold, subject to contract” after seven days or fewer was 33,620 – 125% higher on the same period last year and 28% higher than the previous high recorded in February 2016. It was the highest since Rightmove started collecting the data a decade ago.

In summer there is usually a slowdown in the housing market as people go away, so the annual difference is not as telling as the comparison with the previous spike, recorded as investors scrabbled to complete sales in the weeks before a surcharge on second homes came into effect.

Sellers of three-bedroom semi-detached homes had the best chance of selling quickly, Rightmove said, echoing reports from estate agents that buyers are looking for more space after lockdown.

One in five of these properties took less than a week to go under offer, although in Scotland the figure rose to a third.

The site said the slowest market was in London, although even in the capital homes were selling more quickly than in the summer of 2019.

Miles Shipside of Rightmove said: “Not every home sells, but those that are well presented by agents, are on at the right price, or are just lucky enough to be in demand are among a record number of homes selling within the first week of coming to market since we started tracking this data 10 years ago.”

Shipside said sellers of three-bedroom detached homes were in the “sweet spot” and that bigger “top of the ladder” houses were also proving popular, although this could be because families who were usually away on holiday had brought their search forward.

“Sellers do need to move more quickly than before because although we’re in uncharted territory with record activity it’s still likely that demand will start to soften as it always does towards the end of the year.”

Separate research by mortgage lender Halifax reveals the difficulties faced by first-time buyers, particularly in London and the south-east.

The bank said the typical price paid by someone entering the market had risen by 69% over the past decade, from £142,473 to £241,025. In London, the average price had also doubled over the same period, to £463,536, and elsewhere in the south-east it was up 73% to £303,838.

The number of first-time buyers fell in the first half of the year, taking it to a seven-year low of 116,843.

Although some of the fall was in line with the rest of the market, as lockdown led to purchases being put on hold, first-time buyers face big hurdles.

Mortgages at 90% are very limited, with HSBC announcing on Thursday that it was temporarily pulling out of the market, leaving just Nationwide among the major lenders offering low-deposit deals.

First-time buyers are also facing competition from investors and downsizers, who are also beneficiaries of the stamp duty holiday.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Pent-up demand after Covid lockdown fuels UK house sales surge | Real estate

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