With so many people on holiday, August is traditionally one of the quietest months for house sales, with activity usually then picking up again as we return to work and school in September. This year, as a result of the pandemic, the market is not following the usual script. Although the market did cool slightly, down 0.3% (source: Rightmove), the fall was some way below expected levels. Over the last ten years, the average dip in August was 0.82% and, as recently as 2018, it dropped by as much as 2.3%.
Rightmove’s figures show 2021’s relatively small fall is being driven almost entirely by the upper end of the market (4 bed houses and above), whose prices came down by 0.8%. In the more mass-market sectors, prices rose. For first-time buyers, (2-3 bed homes), prices were up 0.6% and by 0.3% for second-steppers (3-4 bed homes). Demand in these sectors remains strong and supply levels constricted. Enquiries were up by 56% and sales by 9% when compared to August 2019 and properties sold at their fastest ever rate (36 days - subject to contract). At the same time, stocks are at record lows. Bearing in mind that the first phase of the stamp duty holiday came to an end in June, it is clear these unprecedented levels of demand are being driven more by our changing needs than any savings we might make.
There have been concerns for some time now about how both the economy and the housing market will perform over the longer term. The picture, though, is becoming clearer and our economic prospects are looking far healthier than many were expecting.
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, says:
“The macroeconomic environment is becoming increasingly positive, with job vacancies at a record high and consumer confidence returning to pre-pandemic levels. Coupled with a supply of properties for sale that looks increasingly tight, and barring any re-imposition of lockdown measures or a significant increase in unemployment as job support schemes are unwound later this year, these factors should continue to support (house) prices.”
Even the unwinding of the final phase of the stamp duty holiday on 30th September is not expected to have much impact on demand, with Rightmove predicting an autumn bounce in both buyer and seller activity and prices.
There's good news for Londoners, too. There is now hard evidence ofa return to work (and living) in our capital. The Times reported that Monday 6th September was the busiest day for London’s underground in 18 months and bus passengers were up by 71% compared to the previous week. During the height of the pandemic, the flight from London had meant that demand in the capital had fallen considerably, especially for flats. That process is now demonstrably going into reverse and will soon bring upward pressure on both demand and prices.
The other indices continue to drag behind Rightmove's and will continue to do so as we move into the autumn phase of the housing market.
Nationwide: Aug: Avge. price £248,875. Monthly change +2.1%. Annual change +11%
Halifax: Aug. Avge. price £162,954. Monthly change +0.7%. Annual change +7.1%
Land Registry: June: Avge. price £265,668. Monthly change +4.5%. Annual change +13.2%
Hometrack UK 20 City Index: July: Avge. price £267,200. Quarterly change +2.3%. Annual change +4.4%
Rightmove: Aug: Avge. price £337,371. Monthly change -0.3%. Annual change +5.6% (asking prices on Rightmove)
West Berkshire Avge, price is now £458,923, up 13% over the last 12 months. The average detached propertiesare selling for £639,142,semi-detached onesfor £384,429 and terraced properties for £324,495.
If you’ve got a property you’re thinking about selling or renting in Wokingham, Binfield, Jennett’s Park, Warfield or Bracknell, just give us a call at Sears and would like an up-to-date valuation, just give us a call.