Housing Market Has Busiest Month in Over a Decade

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August 2020
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Housing Market Has Busiest Month in Over a Decade

The UK housing market had its busiest month in over a decade in July, according to Rightmove.

According to the property website, a burst of activity from buyers and sellers replaced the traditional summer slowdown in sales. Rightmove said that the ‘rulebook has been rewritten’, with pent-up demand during lockdown fuelling the boom over the summer months. 

The website said that the agreed sales figures in Britain for the month of July were the highest since their records began over ten years ago. Sales in July were worth a combined total of over £37bn, andwere up 38% on the same time period in 2019.

Prospective sellers were also more involved, with the greatest number of properties being put on the market since 2008.

A 2% drop in the average asking price in London has fuelled a 0.2% fall in asking prices across mainland Britain. In London, the year-on-year average for the number of homes up for sale has increased by 69%. 

The housing market reopened in mid-May with a rush of activity, having been closed during the lockdown. This was further fuelled by the government introducing a stamp duty holiday in July for homes up to a value of £500,000 in England, and £250,000 for Scotland and Wales.

Figures from Countrywide, the UK’s largest property services group, show that there was a spike in demand for homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000 since the stamp duty holiday was revealed.

There was a 29% rise in sales agreed for first-time properties, and a 59% rise in sales agreed for large homes annually.

Rightmove director, Miles Shipside, said: “There have been many changes as a result of the unprecedented pandemic, and these include a rewriting of the previously predictable seasonal rulebook for housing market activity and prices.

“Rather than just a release of existing pent-up demand due to the suspension of the housing market during lockdown, there’s an added layer of additional demand due to people’s changed housing priorities after the experience of lockdown.”

The sudden surge in demand for homes has increased pressure on lenders and conveyancing, which is operating below typical capacity due to social distancing measures.

“Patience will be required, especially with some lenders limiting their product ranges due to capacity constraints in their ability to process mortgages,” said Shipside.

Last month, Nationwide said that the flurry of activity in the housing market in July would be short lived, as there would be job losses once the furlough scheme unwinds that will ultimately lead to a slump in activity.