Spring home buyers are facing the highest ever prices demanded by sellers – with the average price tag on a home having jumped by nearly £7,000 in the space of a month.
Across Britain, the increase of £6,733 or 2.1 per cent month-on-month pushed average seller asking prices to a new record high of £327,797 in April, Rightmove said.
This was more than £4,000 higher than a previous record set last October.
In the North West, Rightmove says the average house price is currently £218k – with a monthly change of 2.2 per cent, up by 9pc per year.
Properties generally are being snapped up by buyers at a record speed, Rightmove said.
In the first two weeks of April, estate agents were marking homes as sold in 45 days on average and nearly one in four (23pc) properties that had a sale agreed in March had been on the market for less than a week.
Both these figures were the highest that Rightmove had ever recorded.
The property site said the ‘mass market’ of two-and three-bedroom semi-detached homes tend to be selling the fastest, with 30 per cent of those that are being marked as sold by agents having been on the market for less than a week.
The recent extension of a stamp duty holiday, the return of some low-deposit mortgages, optimism over the coronavirus vaccination rollout and a shortage of properties for sale have pushed up house price momentum, Rightmove said.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “This is only the second time over the past five years that prices have increased by over 2pc in a month, so it’s a big jump, especially bearing in mind that the lockdown restrictions are still limiting the population’s movements and activities.”
He added: “The fast pace of the current market means that each week another activity record on Rightmove tumbles. Wednesday April 7 set a record of over 9.3 million visits to Rightmove, and March saw time spent on the site surpass two billion minutes in a month for the first time.
“This spring surge means that it’s a good time to come to market and achieve a good price and a quick sale, especially if you don’t have an onward purchase.”
Mr Bannister continued: “Housing market activity remains high in Scotland where there has been no extension to the land and buildings transaction tax holiday which has now come to an end, which suggests that the same could happen when the tax holidays start to come to an end in England and Wales from the end of June.
“These rising prices will cause some buyer affordability challenges, as mortgage lending criteria are still constrained, and the record low available stock proportion will make it difficult for buyers to find the right property.
“Being able to act quickly when the right one does come along is vital, so having both a mortgage agreed in principle and your own property already sold subject to contract will help to get you to the front of the queue if you’re looking to buy this spring.”
Alex Beswick, spokesperson for Purplebricks in Manchester said: “The recent incentives in the government’s budget, including the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme and the stamp duty holiday extension, means we are seeing a huge number of buyers looking to get onto the property ladder.
“Here in Manchester demand is extremely high, with many houses having viewings booked within minutes of them going on the market. In some cases offers are above the asking price to secure the home.
“Buyers need to move quicker than ever before.”
Meanwhile, Zoopla’s House Price Index report published last month showed that Manchester is seeing one of the strongest levels of annual house price growth – up 6.4 per cent – outperforming London.
Average house prices in Manchester have increased by almost £1,000 a month since the pandemic started a year ago, rising by £11,450, the report said.
Gráinne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla said: “The search for space is driving continued demand for family homes, which means prices for houses are rising faster than flats, and houses are also selling more quickly.
“The prospects for the housing market over the next year have improved on the back of Budget. The continued search for space, the stamp duty extension and mortgage guarantees will support activity levels and headline house price growth up to the end of Q2 2021.
“Yet the pathway out of the lockdown, and the route to a full re-opening of the economy and unwinding of support measures, is unlikely to be simple or smooth.
“We still expect house price growth to moderate later in the year, but overall transactions are set to benefit from an additional boost following the stamp duty extension and tapering.”
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