UK property demand has soared to the highest level in a decade, according to Rightmove’s House Price Index for March 2021. Record numbers of enquiries per property have pushed the average price of a newly-listed property up +0.8% (+£2,484) this month alone.
The latest data from property experts Rightmove shows this is the “best seller’s market” since the early 2010s, with almost two thirds of sales already confirmed in agents’ books.
There was a daily average of over seven million visits to Rightmove’s website in February – up 40% year on year – as buyers “eagerly await fresh choice coming to the market”.
Prospective buyer numbers for each property are +34% higher than this time last year, driven by the extension of the stamp duty holiday, the reintroduction of 5% deposit mortgages, and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions as the UK plans to end all coronavirus measures by the summer.
The Times has already predicted a “boom year for house prices”, although Rightmove cautioned that price rises are likely to remain moderate throughout the year due to tighter lending criteria, first introduced in 2014, making it more difficult to secure a mortgage.
Prices are also expected to be tempered by an increase in new listings, as early indicators suggest that sellers are already beginning to take advantage of the surge in demand.
New properties were down only 5% during the first week of March, compared to 20% for the entire month of February, with sellers eager to make the most of the final months of the stamp duty holiday and rising appetite to move.
Rightmove’s director of property data, Tim Bannister, commented on this month’s research:
“Concerns of a cliff edge for the housing market at the end of March have dissipated, partly due to the tax deadline extensions in all of the UK bar Scotland, but also because the already high level of buyer demand caused by the lockdowns has continued to surge since the start of the year. This demand will be further boosted from April by the new Government guarantees enabling lenders to bring back 5% deposit mortgages.
“Whilst it is unfortunately not the perfect time to buy for some people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, the record buyer demand measured by Rightmove indicates that now is the right time for many. Record low interest rates and the new focus on what your home needs to offer after several lockdowns have led us to the greatest excess of demand over supply in the last ten years.
“This strong sellers’ market is good news for those who are looking to put their home on the market as the traditional Easter selling season approaches. Blossoming buyer demand coinciding with blossoming gardens should put a spring in the steps of sellers, and more of them coming to market will provide a much-needed increase in the choice of property for the many who are looking to buy”.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves in London, added:
”We’re fast approaching what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the UK property market. With the double pronged boost to buyer demand in the form of a stamp duty extension and government guaranteed 95% mortgage products, sellers can ill-afford to sit on their hands with regard to getting their property on the market.
The UK property market has recovered well after being hit particularly hard by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The initial set of restrictions, implemented by the government in March 2020, effectively stagnated the market. Government advice to “delay” moving house while stay at home measures were in place sent the market tumbling during the spring, usually a busy period for buying and selling, with sales slumping to a record low in April 2020 at just 38,060 transactions, less than half on the year prior.
Now, with spring on the horizon – traditionally the busiest time of year for the property market – and lockdown measures on the way out, this all looks set to change.
Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said:
“Buyers have snapped up stock rapidly across the housing market over the last six months, eroding inventory levels across the country. At the same time, lockdown has meant homeowners have continued to reassess what they want from their properties and this, coupled with the stamp duty holiday, has created a swell in demand. Add to this a renewed appetite for a British bolt hole and this has formed one of the busiest markets we’ve seen for years”.