Record day for property sales and Rightmove traffic has surged

Home sales hit their highest daily level in a decade this week, as the housing market boom continued apace.

The number of property sales agreed on Tuesday 23 March was the highest for ten years, according to analysis by the UK’s biggest home listings website Rightmove.

In total, just under 8,000 properties listed on the site were marked as having had sales agreed by agents.

Spring selling: Owners are keen to show off their gardens to buyers seeking more space

Around 95 per cent of homes sold in the UK are posted on Rightmove, and it currently has more than one million listings across sales and rental.  

In addition, daily visits to the Rightmove website also smashed the all-time record this week – not just once, but twice.

The record was initially set on Tuesday, but was immediately surpassed on Wednesday, when more than 9.1million potential home buyers – and window shoppers – visited the site.

The previous record was set on 3 March, the day of this year’s Budget. 

It was then that Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the stamp duty holiday, which had been due to end on 31 March, would continue with a maximum saving of £15,000 until July and then be tapered down until October.

The stamp duty holiday and people reassessing their living arrangements due to the pandemic have fuelled a housing market boom since the end of the first national lockdown in summer 2020.

The average home increased in value by £17,000 in the last year, according to official figures published this week, and nearly two in three properties on agents’ books are currently sold subject to contract.  

Record highs: The average home gained around £17,000 in the past year following Covid-19

Record highs: The average home gained around £17,000 in the past year following Covid-19

In 2020, home-hunters spent 15.9 billion minutes on Rightmove. There were 2.1 billion visits and people sent 1.6 enquiries to agents every second.

An imbalance between demand for new homes and the number of owners deciding to sell up has been fuelling bidding wars and driving up prices.

This has been termed by some as the strongest sellers’ market of the past decade. 

Some rural areas have particularly hot housing markets as buyers look to escape city life and get more space.

One estate agent in Saffron Walden reported doing 18 viewings in 24 hours on a £1.2million property this week.

Bruce King, a director at Cheffins estate agents in the Essex town, said the number of London buyers looking to move there had more than doubled since the start of the pandemic.

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire was revealed as one of the UK's busiest housing markets this week, as buyers seek to move out of cities and in to smaller, quieter locations

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire was revealed as one of the UK’s busiest housing markets this week, as buyers seek to move out of cities and in to smaller, quieter locations

Although there is still more demand than supply, Rightmove said more homes were now coming to market which could help to ease the pressure on buyers.

This week saw the highest number of new listings on the website for the year so far, and the highest since October last year.

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said that while it remained a sellers’ market, more people were putting their homes up for sale to take advantage of the traditional spring selling season.

With gardens high up many buyers’ wish lists, he also said owners wanted to take the opportunity to showcase their outdoor space while it was looking its best.

‘As we head into half term, agents are reporting a frenzy of activity in some areas, with multiple offers from buyers at asking price and above,’ he said. 

‘It’s very much a sellers’ market, but there are definitely some green shoots starting to emerge with listing numbers improving. 

‘There are definite signs that those sellers who were waiting earlier in the year are now making the most of the spring selling season and, with gardens starting to blossom, it’s a particularly good time to showcase these types of features to the growing number of buyers looking for more outdoor space.’

Your own back yard: Gardens have rocketed up buyers' priority lists since the pandemic

Your own back yard: Gardens have rocketed up buyers’ priority lists since the pandemic

Cheffins’ King said that Government measures had created a perfect storm of housing demand. 

‘The past few months has been of the busiest markets we have seen in years as the combination of lockdown, the stamp duty holiday and the 5 per cent mortgage scheme has created the perfect conditions for buyers to look to move house,’ he said. 

‘There is a raft of buyers out there, all of whom are getting frustrated by the lack of opportunities in the market.’

However, he agreed that there would be more homes coming to market in the coming weeks, thanks also to the easing of lockdown measures.

‘The arrival of spring, the vaccination roll out, the prospects of pubs opening and life going back to normal has had a huge psychological effect on people,’ King added. 

‘The combination of these factors is what is encouraging people to take the plunge and sell up.’

Meanwhile Mark Manning, managing director of Yorkshire-based estate agent Manning Stainton said that the stamp duty extension was not the only factor driving the market. 

‘There’s an unquenchable thirst for property across every corner of the market and the average price being achieved by our team now stands at 99.4 per cent asking price. 

‘This unprecedented level of demand has led to many best and final offer scenarios with our team having to carefully manage the expectations of buyers through that process. 

‘We believe that whilst the stamp duty deadline has and remains a key driver for those buyers looking in the market today, even beyond its progressive end in June and September it will not change significantly the level of demand we are seeing and prices will continue to rise.’

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