London commuter towns are experiencing a “home-moving frenzy” sparked by the stamp duty holiday, according to new data released today.

Post-lockdown buyers looking for homes with gardens, more space and a move towards working from home have put areas within 70 minutes’ train ride of the capital into the spotlight, property portal Rightmove found.

Sellers throughout the UK are being inspired to sell up and move by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty measure, announced in July, but towns in the South-East commuter belt have seen the nation’s biggest annual increase in the number of people putting their homes on the market.

The number of buyers in these towns has also increased, outstripping the growth in available stock and creating a rapid turnover.

Demand – which Rightmove measures by the number of people phoning and emailing estate agents – was up 74 per cent in the South-East compared to this time last year, when the property market was at a virtual standstill over Brexit and political uncertainty in the lead up to December’s general election.

Meanwhile, the number of new sales listings more than doubled in some towns compared to the same six-week period in 2019.

Rightmove’s Miles Shipside said: “We always knew that the stamp duty holiday was going to be a big incentive for people to get moving this year, and it has certainly sparked a home-moving frenzy across commuter towns in the south of England.

“Thousands of sellers are being tempted to come to market in these areas for a number of reasons.”

Shipside said lockdown has created a ripple effect in the housing market, with urban homeowners in search of outside space looking to the commuter belt, and sellers in commuter towns now prepared to move even further from the capital as working from home becomes permanent for many.

Harlow, Essex

The New Town of Harlow in Essex saw the biggest rise in new stock, with the number of homes being put on the market up 121 per cent.

Trains to Liverpool Street take just 31 minutes and Harlow is in the so-called M11 “wealth corridor”.

The town centre is also in line for millions of pounds of investment, with new homes slated to replace a former car park close to the train station and flats and new shops planned around the Harvey Centre shopping mall.

Jake Latch, sales negotiator at Reyland Johnson estate agents in Harlow, said: “Harlow is a gateway town. It’s a typical commuter town and with lots of people not having to commute into London anymore, people are taking advantage of a buoyant market to make their next move.

“Our available stock is really mixed, too, so not everyone is moving completely out of Harlow. It’s one of those places where you’ll always be able to trade up and find something nicer.

“The main thing we’ve seen is that people who were on the fence about moving before the stamp duty holiday have sat up and decided that this is their right time to move.”

Top commuter towns

Hertford, county town of Hertfordshire, had the second biggest increase of new homes put on the market, up 113 per cent compared to last year.

Wickford in Essex was third with a 105 per cent boost, while perennial commuter favourite St Albans, Herts, was the fourth busiest town, with sales listings up 100 per cent.

East Grinstead in West Sussex completes the top five, with new listings up 98 per cent.

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