It is not just sellers, canny savers and surveyors who are benefitting from today’s fast-paced property market, it seems.

Property selling website On The Market this week announced its first profit in six years. Started by a group of estate agents, the portal made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m in the year to January 2021. That compares to a loss of £11.7m for the previous 12 months.

The profit was despite the company offering customer discounts totalling £2.6m during lockdown. 

The hunt for more rural locations together with a desire for larger properties is also driving traffic to the site. In fact, visits to the website increased by 13% to 267m during 2020. 

Increase in New Builds helping boost web traffic

Financial assistance from the stamp duty holiday and new government discounts for first time buyers is also boosting profits. So too is additional New Build listings from developers such as Barratt and Crest Nicholson. At the end of January this year the website had 12,687 property advertisers.

Estate agents behind the website – formed as a challenge to the monopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla – include Savills, Strutt & Parker, Chesterton’s, Knight Frank and two smaller London businesses.

Jason Tebb, chief executive of the company running On The Market said he was confident of ongoing success, particularly now that many homeowners were happy to allow physical visits to take place.

“The economic fundamentals still remain. There’s a low cost of borrowing and huge pent-up demand still, and very few properties on the market comparatively,” he said.

Housing inequality growing says BoE 

Meanwhile housing inequality – particularly between the young and older generations – is at risk of escalating even further, BoE figures show this week. Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane blames the stamp duty holiday for stoking the flames of the market to the extent house prices were up more than 10% in most UK regions compared to the same time last year.

Earlier this week mortgage lender Halifax recorded house prices as having increased by 1.3% in May, taking the average selling price per property to £261,743. And analysts at the Halifax don’t see any let up in the near future either.

Calling for more homes to be built to help with supply problems Haldane added: “For most people the global financial crisis came like an earthquake exposing those structural fault lines in our societies, of which inequality is among the largest.”

Housing supply and demand gap similar to 2013

Figures from the latest survey by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) show the largest gap between house supply and demand since 2013.

As prices continued to increase, demand too went up last month. This is mostly due to buyers trying to beat the deadline for the phasing out of the Stamp Duty holiday. In fact, one analyst this week described the rush to buy as “the biggest conveyancing logjam we’ve ever recorded in a decade.”

But the number of properties available are becoming increasingly scarce, according to a spokesman for Rics. Despite this, he predicts more properties for sale will start appearing on listings in July and August.