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Post-pandemic push: UK housing market reaches new highs

There’s no let-up in buyer appetite across the UK housing market, according to the latest figures, with the predicted post-pandemic dip still yet to materialise.

Another month, another house price index, and the latest Rightmove results show that things are still moving quickly in the country’s property sector.

In contrast to the ONS figures, Rightmove’s monthly indices examines asking prices rather than sold prices. It shows that prices have seen their biggest ever monthly increase, surging by 2.3% to £348,804 – a record high.

On an annual basis, sellers are looking for 9.5% more for their properties than this time last year. The good news in terms of stock levels is that seller numbers are up by 11% compared to February 2021. There’s also been an 11% rise in the number of people requesting estate agent valuations.

UK housing market remains robust

The figures are a clear indication that the after-effects of the pandemic, and the drastic slowdown predicted by some, are yet to take effect. There is still plenty of competition among buyers and sellers, and people’s behaviours still appear to be influenced by the “new normal”.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data says: “The data suggests that people are by no means done with their pandemic-driven moves. Such a significant societal event means that even two years on from the start of the pandemic, people are continuing to re-consider their priorities and where they want to live.”

With news from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the final restrictions will be lifted a month earlier than expected, there could be a knock-on effect sooner rather than later on buying and selling trends. Bannister believes that there is a new group of movers wanting to return to major cities and commuter towns.

“High demand and a shortage of available stock are supporting a rise in prices and a new record average asking price this month,” he adds. “The rising cost of living is undoubtedly affecting many people’s finances, especially those trying to save up enough for a deposit to get on the ladder or to trade up.”

Despite all this, though, demand appears to be rising across the whole of the country.

Recovery in London?

Appetite for London property has dipped in recent years, resulting in stalling house prices. Meanwhile, the winners in the UK housing market have been parts of the north, with the north-west especially experiencing a boom.

However, Rightmove has noted the biggest annual rise in buyer enquiries in the capital compared to elsewhere in the market. Prospective buyers surged by +24% between February 2020 and February 2021 in London.

It has also experienced its biggest annual price hike rate since 2016. This could be a direct result of pandemic restrictions being lifted and attracted workers and city dwellers back to London.

Pressure is easing

One of the biggest challenges faced by the UK housing market in recent years is lack of stock compared to buyer numbers. This has contributed to house prices rising at a faster rate in some areas.

Ben Hudson, managing director at Hudson Moody in York, says that as soon as a property is listed, it flies off the shelf with interest from multiple buyers. This means a lot of homes are selling at above asking price, making accurate valuations even more difficult.

He adds: “The good news is we are starting to see the first signs of the pressure easing, and more traditional seasonal markets returning after two years of frenetic pandemic markets.

“We are going out to value more properties, and seeing more new listings come to the market for sale, and we are seeing signs of a busy, but more traditional spring season.”

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