The stamp duty holiday has injected a hit of adrenaline into the UK housing market, with speedy sales hitting a record high.
According to new research from property portal Rightmove, the number of homes sold within seven days of going on the market is up 125 per cent compared to this time last year – and is at the highest level in more than 10 years.
Since the tax break on homes priced below £500,000 came into force on July 8, one in seven homes has sold within a week of coming to the market.
During the same period last year, one in 10 homes sold within a week.
New stamp duty payable in every London borough, July 2020
Meanwhile, almost a third of homes took less than two weeks to find a buyer, compared to a fifth a year ago.
More than 200,000 homes went under offer in the UK between July 8 and August 31.
In London, one in 10 properties sold in their first week on the market during that time – more than double the number of deals done during the same period last year.
The biggest increase was seen in three-bedroom semi-detached houses with almost one in five getting snapped up in a week, compared to seven per cent last year, suggesting that post-lockdown buyers have sought to trade up to a larger home with outside space.
Fast sales of flats have also increased year on year, with eight per cent going under offer in a week, compared to five per cent a year ago.
London’s most in-demand hotspots for stamp duty savings
In central London, Stuart Bailey, a partner at Knight Frank, agreed that buyers are increasingly after the space and privacy offered by a house.
“Historically we have always sold more flats than houses, but suddenly the tables have turned,” he said.
“It would seem to me that people are having that desire for their own front door and some outside space.”
Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s property expert, said the homes that are selling quickly are those that look good and are sensibly priced. “There’s no point rushing a home to market without carefully thinking through the best way to market it and making sure it looks its best,” he said.
However, he warned sellers not to delay too long. “It is still likely that demand will start to soften as it always does towards the end of the year,” he said.
“The conveyancing log jam created by the pause and subsequent market surge means that people thinking of coming to market really need to do so in September or early October if they want to have a chance of completing with enough time to beat the stamp duty deadline.”
Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co estate agent in Finchley, said the market has been busy ever since it reopened in May and this energy has been given “added impetus” by the prospect of avoiding paying stamp duty. However, he doubts this will lead to price rises.
“Fortunately, more homes are coming on to the market which leads us to believe prices will rise only modestly,” he said.
According to Savills’ latest house price forecast, published earlier this week, prices in prime central, outer and suburban London are expected to fall slightly, between 0.5 and two per cent this year, before increasing by four per cent during next year. Over the next five years, Savills anticipates growth of 10 to 15 per cent.