July 18, 2024

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Bumper Sales Figures for UK House Sales in Summer 2020

Property website Rightmove has revealed that July saw agreed sales reach £37bn which made it the busiest month for property sales in ten years. It is £12bn more than during July 2019 when sales reached £25bn.

Unsurprisingly house purchases plummeted during lockdown but once viewings and house moves were allowed again in May they began to increase again.

For sale sign

The government’s decision to cut stamp duty is also likely to have encouraged both buyers and sellers, to act fast. Their decision announced in July makes properties £500k and under subject to zero stamp duty.

Some of those savings are being passed on but house prices are not significantly lower than last year. Rightmove’s data showed the average asking price in August was £319,497, down 0.2% from the record high in July’s £320,265.

National house price averages were being softened by a 2% reduction in London asking prices, but Rightmove reports record asking prices were experienced in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West England, the East Midlands, West Midlands and the East of England.

July is usually one of the quieter times of year because when people go away on their summer holidays they are not thinking of moving, but last month was extraordinarily busy for home-movers across the UK.

In fact buyers and sellers have been rewriting the housing market rulebook this summer as more people are moving home than ever before.

In fact, Rightmove saw a massive £37 billion worth of property sales agreed in July – the busiest month for home buying since they started tracking this data over ten years ago. Sales numbers rose by 60% between 5-12 August, compared with 2019.

Miles Shipside, a Rightmove director said:

“We associate this time of year with diving into the pool rather than the property market, and of sand and sun rather than bricks and mortar, but buyers have had a record £37bn-monthly spending spree.”

He also 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

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. We associate this time of year with diving into the pool rather than the property market, and of sand and sun rather than bricks and mortar.

While these unseasonal all-time highs for new seller asking prices in seven regions, with the rising popularity of countryside locations driving prices in places like Devon and Cornwall, such unprecedented levels of buyer activity may lead to processing delays and mean that you’ll need to be patient to get to completion.

Rightmove’s data headline figures

  • July 2020 saw the highest number of sales agreed in a month for more than ten years, and with a record total value of over £37 billion
  • Sales agreed for July 2020 are up by 38% on 2019, and a massive 20% higher than the previous record set in March 2017
  • Latest weekly sales agreed figure up by 60% compared to the same week in 2019
  • Highest number of properties coming to market in a month since March 2008, and there are 44% more properties coming to market compared to the same period a year ago, though there are considerable regional variations
  • Unseasonal record high for new seller asking prices in seven regions, but London drags down the national average to a 0.2% fall due to its own more typical 2.0% seasonal monthly drop

Miles Shipside went on to explain that properties in typical commuter-belt areas now need to have more going for them then proximity to a train station alone.

He said: “More property is coming to market than a year ago in all regions, and at a national level the new supply and heightened demand seem relatively balanced. However, those expressing most desire to move on are unsurprisingly in London and its commuter belt.

London has 69% more properties coming to market, with the South East at 60% and the East at 56%. With work and transport patterns potentially changing most around the capital, commuter-belt properties need to have more appeal to prospective buyers than just proximity to a station.

Many buyers do appear to be satisfying their new needs in these regions, as the number of sales agreed in each is also at a record level. The out-of-city exodus has helped push prices to record levels in Devon and Cornwall, for example, where working from home means a different lifestyle much closer to your new doorstep.

What are estate agents saying?

Kevin Shaw, Managing Director of Residential Sales at Leaders Romans Group (LRG), said:

This is positive news for both the property sector, and the wider economy. The market performed well in Q1 this year, and has picked up since lockdown restrictions were lifted. Pent-up buying demand is a key factor for this post-lockdown emergence, as is the increased demand for living space and gardens. As many of us continue to work from home, people have realised business can function well while doing so, and so no longer want to commute into big cities five days a week, or live in urban environments closer to offices.

There is real demand to live in rural locations providing green space. The recently announced stamp duty holiday is another market accelerator too, with many investors and buyers exploiting the savings that are to be made. We’ve also seen stock levels increase – growing supply gives buyers more choice. These figures are extremely positive, but unlikely to lead to a sustained boom in prices.

Dominic Murphy, Managing Director of DM & Co. Estate Agents in Solihull, added:

The market is showing incredible signs of resilience post-lockdown. The chancellor’s announcement has certainly contributed to this bounce back and the market is more active now than it has been in the last ten years. July 2020 was the best month in DM & Co.’s history.

We’re seeing increased activity across all price brackets and expect this to continue well into Q4 as buyers will be doing all that is in their power to push sales through before the end of the stamp duty holiday.

I suspect that the market will remain buoyant until job losses filter through and really start to hit the market in full force and mortgage-ability starts to be questioned. If you can be in a chain-free position, you are most likely to be taking advantage of the momentum that the market is seeing and not be open to chains breaking further down the line.

Find advice on getting your property ready to sell on this blog: Top DIY Tips To Consider When Selling A House.