Demand for UK homes for sale at decade high for spring

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3-min read
House for sale signs on a residential street in Tunbridge Wells, southeast England. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty
House for sale signs on a residential street in Tunbridge Wells, southeast England. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty

The UK housing market is experiencing the greatest excess in demand over supply in the past decade, meaning the price of the average property coming to market in March was inflated by 0.8%, or £2,484 ($3,460).

According to new data from the Rightmove (RMV.L) monthly House Price Index, the number of potential buyers enquiring about each available property in the month also shot up, and is a record 34% higher than the same period a year ago, which was itself an active market before the first lockdown.

Rightmove said that with sales already agreed for almost two out of three properties on agents’ books, buyers are eagerly awaiting fresh choice coming to market, making this the best sellers’ market of the past ten years.

The start of the traditional spring selling period has seen the number of sales agreed for the first week in March up by 12% on prior year despite shortage of available stock.

Watch: How much money do I need to buy a house?

Rightmove also said it had seen a 40% bump in website visits from February, with more than 7 million viewers heading to the site.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Brits shop closer to home due to lockdown while half of spending is online

Early signs show that more owners are now deciding to market their properties, spurred by incentives and lockdown easing.

Chart: Rightmove
Chart: Rightmove

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data said: “Concerns of a cliff edge for the housing market at the end of March have dissipated, partly due to the tax deadline extensions in all of the UK bar Scotland, but also because the already high level of buyer demand caused by the lockdowns has continued to surge since the start of the year.

"This demand will be further boosted from April by the new Government guarantees enabling lenders to bring back 5% deposit mortgages."

Bannister notes that this strong sellers’ market is good news for those who are looking to put their home on the market as the traditional Easter selling season approaches.

Matthew Cooper, founder & managing director of Yes Homebuyers, said: “Think of the current market landscape as an upside-down duck, moving frantically above water, with very little going on beneath.

"This is exactly what we’re currently seeing and while sellers may be accepting offers at an alarming speed, the decision to extend the stamp duty holiday is only adding to the long delays being seen at the back end of the transaction process, with little to no movement being made for months on end.

"Although the cliff edge has been delayed, it’s growing bigger by the day and so hopefully those trying to transact have packed their mountain climbing equipment, as they’ll need it come September.”

Watch: What do stamp duty cuts mean for buyers and house prices?