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12 Mar 2021 | 15:13

UK spring property market strongest for a decade - Rightmove

(Sharecast News) - The UK property market is in the strongest spring sellers' market for a decade with buyer demand remaining high and the stamp duty holiday extended, a Rightmove survey showed. The number of potential buyers enquiring about each available property in February was a record, and a third higher than a year ago, which was an active market before the first lockdown, Rightmove said.

High demand has pushed the average price of a property coming to the market by almost £2,500 or 0.8%. Sales are already agreed for almost two-thirds of properties on agents' books, leading to the best sellers' market for 10 years.

The start of the traditional spring selling period saw the number of sales agreed in the first week of March up 12% from a year earlier despite a shortage of stock, Rightmove said. In February more than 7m visits were made to Rightmove's site - a 40% increase from February 2020.

The figures suggest Chancellor Rishi Sunak's decision to extend the stamp duty holiday beyond 31 March has given fresh impetus to the market after the tax break spurred a frenzy of buying in the second half of 2020. Sunak also announced government backing for buyers with small deposits.

After a slow start to 2021 the market may also be supported by more people looking to move out of cities to find bigger houses with the prospect of working from home. Foxtons, the London-focused estate agent, has reported busy trading as Londoners have headed for the suburbs and home counties.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove's director of property data, said: "Concerns of a cliff edge for the housing market at the end of March have dissipated, partly due to the tax deadline extensions but also because the already high level of buyer demand caused by the lockdowns has continued to surge since the start of the year.

"This demand will be further boosted from April by the new government guarantees enabling lenders to bring back 5% deposit mortgages. The strong sellers' market is good news for those who are looking to put their home on the market as the traditional Easter selling season approaches."

Bannister said the shortage of supply could be easing as more people put their homes on the market spurred by Sunak's actions and a clearer route out of the Covid-19 crisis. In the first week of March new listings were only 5% lower than a year earlier compared with a 20% gap in February.
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