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House sales soar on pandemic-induced ‘search for space’

Glasgow, Bristol, Nottingham, Stoke, and Middlesbrough are the top five busiest markets in the UK

The UK housing market has recorded £149bn worth of property sales in the first 15 weeks of 2021, equating to almost double the value of homes sold in the same period in 2020 and 2019. 

These are the latest findings from Zoopla, the UK’s leading property portal, in its monthly House Price Index.

The numbers are fuelled by the enduring ‘search for space’ that emerged during the pandemic and shaped the market over the past 12 months.

One in every 50 homes was sold between 1 January and 15 April, up from one in every 100 homes during the same period last year.

Glasgow, Bristol, Nottingham, Stoke, and Middlesbrough are the top five busiest sales markets in the UK.

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The supply of new homes for sale has proved to be a casualty of the extreme market momentum, and in the first half of April, the number of homes available to buy was 30% lower than the level of stock recorded during the same period in the comparatively ‘normal’ markets of 2017-19.

Furthermore, the total number of homes listed for sale in the year to date is 19% lower than average levels recorded in 2020 –  this is despite a 50 day market closure in England (and longer in Wales and Scotland) last year when little-to-no new stock was brought to market.

Three and four-bedroom houses have recorded the biggest annual drop in supply – reflective of buyer demand for more space and an overall trend in homeowner appetites to upsize.

Buyer demand peaked in the week following Easter, at double the levels of the same period in 2017-19, and is currently up 27% in the year to date compared to the average levels in 2020 – despite the acceleration of demand recorded during the pandemic.

However, since the first stage of lockdown easing on April 12th in England,  buyer demand has fallen back slightly. This comes as households start to focus on catching up with friends and family, and taking advantage of leisure activities and amenities that haven’t been available since January.

David Ross, Managing Director, Hometrack, commented: “Behavioural changes associated with the easing of lockdown – children returning to school, people getting more comfortable having buyers view their homes – has led to an increase in the number of family homes being listed for sale.”

“But, it’s not enough to match the appetite in the market for extra space. Houses currently make up 59% of properties listed – that’s down from 76% in 2017.”

“The resurgence of first-time buyers, using 95% LTV mortgage guarantee products, is further constraining available supply. All of this continues to support price growth in the short term. Though it has moderated slightly this month, it’s still the fifth month in a row that annual growth figures have sat at 4.0% or above.”

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