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UK property buyers should invest by Christmas to get stamp duty savings

Property buyers in England and Wales can make big stamp duty savings until March 2021. There’s already been a huge boom in demand, and buyers and sellers should act quickly.

The UK housing market continues to go from strength to strength, with new research showing asking prices are firmly on the rise. Whether caused by the new stamp duty threshold or the fact that people can more easily list, buy and sell now, the boom is significant.

Asking prices on Rightmove in July are an average 2.4%, or £7,640, higher than they were in March. This is a record increase, meaning the average home on the market is now £320,265. According to the portal, the busy start to the year pre-coronavirus has now well and truly resumed.

Buyer enquiries have also hugely increased, up by 75% across Britain this month compared to 2019. The number of sales agreed in the month is also 15% higher than in 2019, with a 35% jump the day after the stamp duty announcement.

When’s the best window of opportunity?

Importantly, though, Rightmove is urging buyers and sellers to act quickly to secure deals. The stamp duty holiday will attract scores more buyers to the market, but the incentive ends next March. It is vital to ensure sales are complete by the deadline to take full advantage of the tax saving.

Miles Shipside said: “There is a window of opportunity for sellers to come to market and to find a buyer who is tempted by the stamp duty savings. Although March next year may sound like a long time away, in reality, sellers need to find a buyer before Christmas, to allow a further three months for completion of the legal process to beat the deadline.

“While property is selling much faster than a year ago, it’s important not to over-price and miss this window. It’s still a price-sensitive market with buyers having limits on what they are able to borrow, and the uncertain economic outlook making them more cautious.”

What’s happening across the UK…

Rightmove’s latest report also hones in on trends on a regional basis. The biggest house price increase between March and July was seen in Scotland, with prices rising by 4.5% to £166,322. This is an annual uplift of 5.3%, and shows how the country’s housing market is already bouncing back.

In England, Yorkshire and the Humber had the biggest asking price increase on Rightmove. There, prices rose by 4.1% since March to £204,050, which is an annual increase of 5.2%.

After this, the north-west, which has been one of the strongest performing regions in recent years, is next from the top. The region’s house prices went up by 3.5% from March to July to £208,330 – a 4% annual increase. The East and West Midlands followed closely behind, with hikes of 3.4% and 2.9% respectively since March.

Martin Walshe, Director at Cheffins in Cambridge, says the firm there is as busy as ever.

“Lockdown made those who were already considering a house move almost frantic with anticipation for estate agency doors to reopen. The increase we’ve seen in enquiries since rules were relaxed has overtaken any other peak I’ve ever experienced.”

“We haven’t seen a market this competitive in years and we expect it to get busier still as the stamp duty slash starts to take effect,” he adds.

Walshe believes that lockdown has cemented people’s need to move. This is particularly prominent in relation to upsizers, those leaving London and people who can now work from home.

He concludes: “There has been a misconception among sellers that the market is quiet and depressed when in fact it really is completely the reverse.”

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