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Residential News | Thu 21 Jan 2021
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Figures from property search giant, Rightmove show that interest from prospective homebuyers and property sales figures remain robust, although asking prices have dipped in recent weeks as sellers attempt to agree deals and secure buyers before the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Rightmove’s data shows prices for homes advertised between 6th December and 9th January were down 0.9% on the previous month. However, the company’s figures still show that in Yorkshire and the Humber, prices rose by 6.3% in 2020.

Visits to Rightmove’s website have also shot up by 33% in recent weeks, the number of buyers contacting agents has risen by 12% and the number of sales agreed is up by 9% for January so far compared to the previous year. In addition, despite Covid-19 temporarily closing the housing market in 2020, the number of sales agreed was up by 10% for the whole year versus 2019. 

Last summer chancellor Rishi Sunak temporarily raised the threshold for paying stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March this year. Rightmove’s analysis shows it is now taking 126 days from the time an offer is accepted until legal completion. The company also predicts that approximately 100,000 sales that are currently agreed, out of 613,000 in Rightmove’s latest count, will miss out on their stamp duty saving.

Patrick McCutcheon, head of residential at Dacre, Son & Hartley, which has 20 offices in West and North Yorkshire, said: “We would advise new buyers entering the market now, not to factor in any stamp duty savings because the logjam of transactions currently in the pipeline will make it difficult for new sales to complete before the end of March. 

“However, there is also currently an increasing amount of liquidity in the property market, with historically low interest rates as well as an influx of new mortgage products, from a wide range of well-known lenders, some of which now require only a 10% deposit. Plus, it is worth remembering that first-time buyers will still be mainly exempt from paying stamp duty after the March deadline has passed. Therefore, the market conditions will remain favourable for many buyers once the market settles down after the end of March.”

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, commented: “As we enter the new year and a new lockdown, the housing market remains open but is focused on the imminent end of the stamp duty holiday and on the challenges of the pandemic. These major influences on mover behaviour are clouding the 2021 outlook, but Rightmove’s early January market-leading indicators of buyer demand and the number of actual sales being agreed are looking robust, showing that there are many compelling reasons other than the stamp duty savings to make buyers enter the market in 2021. 

“Both metrics are up substantially on the same eleven days of January a year ago, which itself was a brisk start to the year due to buyers reacting favourably to the certainty of a majority government. That certainty at the beginning of 2020 was replaced by nearly a year of pandemic uncertainty, though the major difference between the first lockdown and this one is that the housing market is open. Movers’ changed housing priorities due to the lockdown can therefore be more readily satisfied, though obviously estate agents will be carefully following government safety protocols, with more offering online viewings to help buyers to make shortlists and to cut down on the number of physical viewings that are taking place.

“While the tax savings were an added incentive, movers’ desire for more inside and outside space seems to be continuing, and this new lockdown could be a spur to act in 2021 for those who can and who did not do so in 2020.”

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