Stopped in its tracks once again, England went into lockdown 2.0 last month. But you wouldn’t have realised had you just landed and caught a glimpse of the property market.

It was – and is – still open for (plenty of) business, with estate agents and potential buyers able to physically visit properties (having first viewed them online). And it is just as well the market is still up and running considering the huge rush to get thousands of property transactions settled before the Stamp Duty Holiday is terminated at the end of March 2021. Estate agents, surveyors and conveyancers are all currently complaining about a huge backlog of transactions.

The latest data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shows that 98,010 property sales have already gone through in September alone. That’s 21% up on August’s figures and down just 0.7% on last year (before Covid-19 or any mention of lockdowns).

Properties selling in 50 days, say Rightmove

Experience from the first UK-wide lockdown showed the closing of the property market merely built up demand so that, when restrictions were lifted, the buying and selling of property went into overdrive. And, seven months on, buyer demand is still strong – Rightmove recently reported most properties on their portal as selling within 50 days.

BOE mortgage approvals highest for 13 years

House prices are still up. Land Registry’s figures for August showed the average property was priced at £239,196 – that’s a 2.2% increase on August 2019. The Bank of England added to the glad tidings by announcing that mortgage approvals last month were the highest in 13 years.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Stamp Duty Holiday for property worth up to £500,000 in England and half that figure in Scotland and Wales helped, of course. So too did Covid-19 itself, with those who had never considered moving now looking for a rural retreat, garden and additional room to use as work-from-home office space.

Property portal Zoopla reports that 31% of properties sold during the months of June, July and August were in rural areas, compared with just 18% in urban locations.

House prices may remain steady until March/April 2021

The buying overdrive will peter out at some point, and at which time house prices will almost certainly take a dip. But this isn’t expected to happen, at least markedly, until next year. Many in the industry believe the end of the Stamp Duty Holiday will bring about a change in the market. But who knows if the holiday will end in March – the chancellor has received a pleading letter signed by well-known trade bodies in the property industry asking him to extend the Stamp Duty bonanza by a further six months.

He has already extended the furlough scheme again, after all, with this latest extension due to come to an end around the same time as the Stamp Duty Holiday. It’s expected the former will result in job losses. However, the prospect of a nationwide vaccination programme may make the unemployment statistics far less severe than previously predicted.

And then there’s Brexit…

There is, of course, another major event for the UK which could potentially derail the property market. And that is the possibility of a no-deal Brexit – something else that is predicted to have a negative effect on the economy and result in job losses. As a result, it could slow down transactions in the property market and therefore reduce house prices.

Then again, the property market hasn’t just survived, but flourished as a result of the pandemic (at least in the short term). And, could it be that with the intervention of the new pro-European US president we may just get a longed-for Brexit deal, after all?