Housing market mini-boom accelerates – Rightmove

The post-lockdown mini-boom in the housing market is showing signs of accelerating rather than slowing down, according to the latest Rightmove House Price Index.

The property expert suggested 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.

This year, however, the index suggested that 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 more than £37bn.

Rightmove said 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.

The index indicated that prices usually fall at this time of year, as sellers try to tempt “holiday distracted buyers”, with the national average monthly fall for the last ten years being 1.2%. While the latest data showed there is a slight monthly fall of 0.2% (-£768), this is due to London’s more normal seasonal fall of 2.0%, reversing what would otherwise have been an unseasonal national rise.

“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,” Rightmove director and housing market analyst, Miles Shipside, commented.

“Home movers are both marketing and buying more property than we have recorded in any previous month for over ten years, helping push prices to their highest ever level in seven regions.

“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.

“This is also keeping up the momentum of the unexpected mini-boom, which is now going longer and faster.”

Record levels of pent-up and new buyer demand also mean there is extra pressure on the lending and legal areas of the home moving process.

Rightmove suggested the average time between agreeing a sale and moving in was already around three months before lockdown, and that there is now a ten-year high in the number of sales being agreed.

The index highlighted that mortgage lenders and conveyancers may struggle to cope with the increased workload – not only now but as pressure rises further in the run up to the 31 March stamp duty holiday deadline.

Shipside continued: “Not only are we seeing an unusually busy summer period, but also parts of the lending and legal sectors are having to cope with capacity constraints, as some staff will still be on furlough while many will still be working from home.

“To minimise the risk of missing the 31 March stamp duty deadline it’s best to plan well ahead. This busy pace of the market looks set to continue in the short-term, and although the market has proven resilient since reopening, we still need to be mindful of the wider economic concerns as the year progresses.”

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