Residential property asking prices soared in July as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted, sparking a “mini-boom” in the UK housing market.
The average asking price of property coming to market in July was up 2.4 per cent compared to March, before the coronavirus lockdown was announced.
The 3.7 per cent annual rate of increase recorded in July is the highest since 2016, according to the latest analysis by property platform Rightmove.
Year-on-year buyer enquiries were up 75 per cent in Britain since the beginning of the month, and 44 per cent of new listings that came up for sale in the first month after restrictions were eased in May have been marked as sale agreed.
Estate agents hailed the figures, saying that such levels of activity were “unheard of” within the UK market, saying that they expected prices to rise further.
The property market was brought to a standstill during the UK coronavirus lockdown, as estate agents closed, construction work was paused and prospective buyers were unable to view houses.
The government opened the English property market on 13 May, and has since announced a stamp duty holiday to reignite the market.
The number of monthly sales agreed jumped 15 per cent in England compared to last year and soared 35 per cent in the five days after the government increased the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000.
Rightmove housing market analyst Miles Shipside said: “The unexpected mini-boom continues to gather momentum as more nations reopen.
“The busy until interrupted spring market has now picked up where it left off and has been accelerated by both time-limited stamp duty holidays and by homeowners reappraising their homes and lifestyles because of the lockdown.”
James Forester, managing director of Barrows and Forester, said: “Such significant levels of buyer activity are unheard of within the UK market and should ensure a nitrous-oxide fuelled return to form for the UK property market.
“While the market will return to a more familiar form of ‘normality’ as this demand levels out, it has truly defibrillated any fears of a downturn in home values”.
However, former RICS chairman Jeremy Leaf said that the signs were that many expected this surge to be a brief one.
“We get the impression too that many recognise this may be a relatively short-term surge as government support schemes start to fall away and news about the economy is not very encouraging”, he said.
“Looking forward, we don’t expect prices to increase particularly strongly as the number of new listings is also rising, providing more balance between supply and demand. The market remains price-sensitive.”