The housing market has had its busiest month in more than 10 years in July, with the traditional summer lull replaced by a flurry of activity from buyers and sellers, according to the property website Rightmove.
There is normally a seasonal slowdown in housing market activity over the summer months, as both buyers and sellers turn their attention to summer holidays. But this year, home movers have put more property on the market and have agreed more sales than in any month for over ten years, worth a record total of over £37 billion. This is leading to monthly price increases in ten out of twelve regions, with a record high in new seller asking prices in seven of those regions. Would-be sellers were also active, with more properties coming on to the market than in any month since 2008.
The housing market was closed in lockdown and reopened in mid-May, sparking a flurry of activity. July brought a stamp duty holiday on homes costing up to £500,000 in England and £250,000 in Wales and Scotland, which further fuelled activity.
Last week figures from the UK’s largest estate agency firm, Countrywide, showed that demand for homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000 had soared since the tax break was announced, and Rightmove’s figures suggest a similar effect for other agents.
The number of sales agreed for large homes was up by 59% annually, while for first-time properties the rise was 29% and on homes with three or four bedrooms, excluding four-bed detached properties, it was 38%.
Miles Shipside, a Rightmove director, 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.”
He added: “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 demand for homes has put pressure on lenders and conveyancing which, under social distancing rules, are often operating below their usual capacity.