In Brief

UK property sales hit £37bn in market’s busiest month in decade

Rightmove says coronavirus pandemic has ‘rewritten the rulebook’ as pent-up demand helps buck usual summer slowdown trends

More than £37bn worth of property sales were agreed in the UK in July as the number of transactions soared by 38% year-on-year, new figures from Rightmove show. 

The property website - which according to The Guardian “typically lists about 95% of homes for sale in the UK” - says the “rulebook has been rewritten”, with the market enjoying its busiest month since Rightmove began tracking the data a decade ago. “Pent-up demand from the coronavirus lockdown and a desire to leave London”, plus a cut in stamp duty, are credited with averting the “usual summer slowdown”, adds Reuters.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “We associate this time of year with diving into the pool rather than the property market, and of sand and sun rather than bricks and mortar, but buyers have had a record £37bn monthly spending spree.

“More property is coming to market than a year ago in all regions, and at a national level the new supply and heightened demand seem relatively balanced.”

Average asking prices stood at £320,265 in July, “which was a record high”, reports Sky News. However, asking prices have since dropped by an average of 0.2% to £319,497, “but this has been driven by a 2% drop in London, where the number of homes coming on to the market is up by 69% year-on-year”, says The Guardian.

“In seven regions, asking prices hit record highs as sellers sought to make the most of the demand,” the paper continues. 

A rise in the number of people seeking countryside properties has also contributed to the post-lockdown sales boom. Enquiries for village properties rose by 126% in June and July compared with the same period in 2019.

Rightmove’s 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.” 

Kevin Shaw, managing director of residential sales at Leaders Romans Group, added: “As many of us continue to work from home, people have realised business can function well while doing so, and so no longer want to commute into big cities five days a week, or live in urban environments closer to offices. 

“There is real demand to live in rural locations providing green space.” 

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