Property market seemingly immune to Coronavirus

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UK house prices just keep on rising – but for how long? As more giant national employers announce job losses property analysts say it’s only a matter of time before the rush to buy begins to settle.

The caution is in response to the latest Halifax Monthly House Index figures which recorded the average property as 5.2% higher than the same period last year. This means the average house in the UK is now worth £245,000 in Halifax terms. And it’s not a far cry off Nationwide’s House Price Index either. The latter recorded a 2% jump between July and August, bringing the value of their average property to £224,123 (around £21,000 less). Halifax recorded that jump in house values between July and August as slightly less – at 1.6%.

In August property portal Zoopla revealed house sales in July were 76% above average over the past five years. Mortgage approvals had also quickly recovered too, according to the Bank of England.

The chancellor’s Stamp Duty holiday scheme, it seems, inflamed the already pent-up demand of lockdown. It means properties in England and Northern Ireland up to the value of £500,000 carry no stamp duty tag. That figure is halved for Scotland and Wales.

Property roller coaster predicted for Nov to April 2021

After the claustrophobia of having to stay indoors during March to May and an increase in home working, many buyers it appears are looking for larger houses with more bedrooms. Gardens and access to more green space remains a priority, while sales of coastal homes are also doing well.

Halifax MD Russell Galley is convinced the rise in property values will falter once government schemes propping up jobs finish at the end of October. At that point, he says, “downward pressure on prices” is expected.

Analysts predict brighter spring/summer 2021

Economic forecasters meanwhile expect that drop to be around 3% by the beginning of next year but then to pick up along with the general economy. That’s good news for the majority of house hunters, but not first-time buyers. They still feel frozen out thanks to the lack of available high loan-to-value deals around right now. But then, being priced out of the market won’t make any difference when it comes to house price values – hence the reason values continue to rise.

Those who can afford to buy have probably saved more during lockdown so can get a bigger home. Low mortgage rates are also helping. But they will have to be quick. Not only is the Stamp Duty scheme due to end in March 21, but properties right now are selling quicker too. Last year it was taking 39 days to sell a house; this year that figure has fallen to just 27 days. 

Winners and losers in annual house price values

Cities which were the biggest winners in terms of house price rises between 2020 and 2019 were Leicester and Edinburgh with 4.9% and 4.4% respectively. That’s according to the Zoopla guide. In third place was Manchester (3.6%), fourth Nottingham (3.2%) and fifth was Birmingham with 3.1% growth.

Cities where the average house prices have fallen compared to the previous year include Aberdeen (down a huge 3.9%), London and Cambridge (0.9% less) and Oxford with a drop in house values of 0.3%.

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