We’re back into lockdown but this time around the property industry will not be required to close, so buyers, sellers and renters will be able to continue moving home. Initially, it was not clear whether agents would be able to keep their physical branches open but it has now been confirmed they can. It remains to be seen how disruptive it will be for other parts of the sales process, such as conveyancing, valuations and local searches. Those areas have already been under considerable strain as a result of the unprecedented levels of activity generated by the stamp duty holiday.
In the meantime, the average price of property coming onto the market rose by 1.1% in October. It means average asking prices hit a record high of £323,530. That’s 5.5% higher than they were this time last year. Rightmove expects that figure to hit 7% before the end of the year.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data comments:
Not only are prices rising but the stats have been improving across the board. Reported sales have shot up by 70% when compared to this time last year leading, for the first time ever, to agents having more properties listed as ‘sold’ than ‘for sale’. The average sale time has fallen to just 50 days – 12 days faster than October 2019 – and Rightmove has seen a 49% jump in traffic. London continues to lag behind the rest of the country, with growth of just 0.2% in October, some way down from the national average of 1.1%. The capital’s sales, though, were fastest at 48 days.
Nationwide report similar, high levels of activity, with annual growth of 5.8% and mortgage approvals hitting 91,500 – the highest levels since before the 2008 financial crash. They also note that the outlook remains very uncertain and that much will depend on the government’s supporting measures. With the stamp duty holiday coming to an end in March, lockdown will mean buyers (and sellers) will be under even more time pressure and many in the industry are now calling for the stamp duty to be extended. So far the government has been quiet on the issue, but that may change over the coming months.