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Asking prices reach record high in October

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The average price of a property coming to market rose 1.1% in the last month to a new high of £323,530, the Rightmove house price index for October has revealed.

On an annual basis, prices increased 5.5%, the biggest uptick in property prices for four years. Based on the trajectory and activity in the market, Rightmove has predicted the annual growth rate to peak at 7% by December. 

The number of sales agreed also soared while the time it takes for a property to sell plummeted during the month. 

The average time for a house to sell shortened to 50 days, the quickest Rightmove has ever recorded and 12 days shorter than last year. 

The number of sales agreed reported by estate agents increased 70% annually and for the first time, estate agents have more properties marked as sold than available, Rightmove claimed. 

Delays still apparent 

Although properties are coming off the market faster than they have before, property professionals noted there were still delays completing a transaction. 

James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, said sellers had seen the stamp duty holiday as an opportunity to push up prices but added postponements along the chain could see buyers lose out on the chance to take advantage. 

He said: “As a result of this over-optimistic pricing tactic, prices have soared and buyers are ironically seeing the stamp duty saving on offer dwindle in their attempts to secure a property before the deadline arrives.  

“While the time to accept an offer is incredibly quick at present, the time required to actually complete and secure a stamp duty saving is not.

Therefore, those entering the market now are unlikely to complete in time to secure a stamp duty saving and as this reality starts to filter through to homebuyers, asking price growth will cool considerably,” he added. 

Hugh Wade-Jones, managing director of Enness Global Mortgages, said buyers were experiencing hold ups when it came to the legal part of the transaction process, sometimes lasting months.  

He added: “While many agents may find themselves in the extraordinary position of having more stock sold subject to contract than they have for sale, the ratio of actual homes sold is probably telling a slightly different story.  

“As a result, the reality of market conditions is probably a tad more muted than we are being led to believe and so while the time it’s taking to list a property as sold may have accelerated, actual sale times aren’t particularly quick.” 

The index comes after research revealed nearly half of home offers are down valued after a price has been agreed between a buyer and seller.

Change in post-lockdown property needs

The demand for three and four-bedroom homes remained evident in October, as average asking prices for second-steppers saw the largest annual increase of 6.1% to £293,341.  

Larger, top of the ladder properties saw asking prices rise 5.8% to £575,594 while first-time buyer properties increased 5.7% annually to £201,628. 

Rightmove director of property data, Tim Bannister, said: “Previous records are tumbling in this extraordinary market, and there are still some legs left in the upwards march of property prices.  

Many buyers seem willing to pay record prices for properties that fit their changed post-lockdown needs, though agents are commenting that some owners’ price expectations are now getting too optimistic, and not all properties fit the must-have template that buyers are now seeking.