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Why is the property market so busy?

Questions and answers

Growing optimism due to the Coronavirus vaccination roll-out, the return of low-deposit mortgages and the stamp duty holiday extension in England and Wales are all factors motivating home-hunters to seek a fresh start in fresh surroundings. We can’t compare this period with the same period a year ago, because the housing market was effectively suspended. Instead, we can see that the number of properties coming to market in the last month is up by 3% in comparison to the same period in 2019.

Why are there so few properties available?

While this shows us that the volume of new property listings is returning to normal levels, buyers have had a lot less to choose from as the traditional spring home-moving season began. In contrast, the number of sales agreed is up by 55% on the same period two years ago, which means the proportion of available property is at its lowest ever recorded by Rightmove. This is the biggest lack of stock we’ve seen on the market since we opened this office in 2009. Demand is huge, created by a perfect storm of low interest rates, the stamp duty holiday and changes in people’s working patterns.

Why are asking prices rising?

The combination of strong demand from buyers ready to move, coupled with the current shortage of property for sale, is pushing asking prices up. The national average price of property coming to market has risen by £6,733 within a month, hitting an all-time high of £327,797.

How long is it taking to sell a home?

Properties sold within an average of just 45 days in the first two weeks of April, which is faster than has ever been recorded at Rightmove. Almost one in four (23%) properties that had a sale agreed in March had been on the market for less than a week.

Which properties are selling the fastest?

Two- and three-bedroom semi-detached homes are being snapped up quickest, with 30% of those selling within just a week of being on the market. However, buyers who are in a position to move are competing for all types of properties across a range of price levels.

What does a busy housing market mean for home sellers?

If you’ve been holding off to see what will happen in the housing market, then now is a great time to sell. The spring surge in buyer demand puts sellers in a position to achieve a good price and a quick sale, especially if they don’t have an onward purchase. The search for more space and new surroundings is still driving the market, with prices rising for the right property in the right location.

What does it mean for buyers?

We expect to see more property listings coming to market this month to help with the shortfall. With the vaccine roll-out progressing and continued strong demand from buyers, there should be more sellers putting their homes on the market over the coming months. But buyers should keep in mind that if they’re looking to buy in the current market and do manage to find the right property, they will need to be ready to move more quickly than ever before.

What is the outlook for the year ahead?

We are yet to see the impact of the challenging economic conditions created by coronavirus restrictions. Nevertheless, we expect the present high level of demand will remain for the rest of 2021.


By Chris Willey

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