Property prices have boomed by more than 10 per cent in some regions during the pandemic, with another rise last month taking the average listing to £330,000.
However, there is a sharp difference in fortune between the historically overheated London market and the regions. Prices in the capital have risen by a mere 0.2 per cent since the first lockdown a year ago while shortage of supply and surging demand from people wishing to relocate because they can now work from home have pushed costs up by 13 per cent in Wales; 11.1 per cent in northwest England; and 9.1 per cent in Yorkshire and Humberside.
According to Rightmove, which started its national surveys in 2013, that means that while London prices remain 2.9 times more expensive than for an equivalent property in the north of England, it is the smallest difference in this survey’s history.
“While the level of new properties coming up for sale is at a similar level to the long-term average, demand continues to massively exceed supply, especially in northern regions,” the survey found. Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s data director, said that last year’s mini boom in house sales surprised the sector and that the effect was still rippling through the market. “Buyer affordability is increasingly stretched but there’s obviously some elasticity left to stretch a bit more as many buyers are squeezing their way into higher price bands,” he said.
The survey found that prospective buyers are now facing record prices in all regions except London. Rightmove reckons that the strength of demand could yet override the imminent end of the stamp duty holiday, the house-move tax that has been relaxed by the Treasury during the pandemic.
James Forrester, managing director of the West Midlands estate agent Barrows and Forrester, said: “Asking prices continue to climb at an alarming rate. Buyer demand remains extremely high and an appetite for larger homes is driving market activity.
“However, a lack of suitable stock to satisfy this demand is causing many to dig deep in order to offer above the odds. At the same time, savvy sellers are realising that buyers are not only entering the market with a budget boosted by the stamp duty holiday but they’re doing so amid an air of panic with the deadline fast approaching. Many are pricing far higher than the market value of their home to take advantage of this desperation.”
Mark Manning, managing director of the West Yorkshire-based estate agents Manning Stainton, said: “Across our region we’re seeing a continued surge in the volume of new buyers entering the market, a vast number of those buyers arriving from other destinations around the country, particularly the south.”