House prices rocket to over £320,000 in record high after ‘unexpected mini boom’

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PROPERTY asking prices have topped £320,000 in a record high due to an “unexpected mini boom” surge in demand.

The average asking price in July stood at £320,265 – 2.4 per cent or £7,640 more than the previous record high in March before lockdown – according to property portal Rightmove.

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In March the average asking price was £312,625, which was a record.

That dropped to £311,950 in April just after the housing market was put on hold to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Rightmove’s data includes asking prices at the start of April, despite sales being put on hold in March.

On an annual basis, Rightmove says asking prices in July were 3.7 per cent higher than a year ago, which is the highest annual increase for over three and-a-half years.

Experts had warned that property prices could rise as a result of chancellor Rishi Sunak introducing a stamp duty cut for England and Northern Ireland.

The measure, which lasts until March 31, 2021, temporarily increases the “nil rate” band of stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 meaning buyers can potentially save up to £15,000.

But Rightmove’s latest report only covers the period up to July 11; just a few days after the stamp duty cut was announced on July 8 so it’s unlikely to have had a huge immediate impact on asking prices.

Of course, Rightmove’s data is only based on asking prices and the eventual price a property is sold for may well differ.

In fact, recent sales figures show property prices have in fact fallen, which is in contrast with the property portal’s findings.

Halifax’s most recent report, for example, found that property prices fell for their fourth month in a row by 0.1 per cent to £237,616 in June.

Meanwhile, Nationwide found prices fell by 1.4 per cent in June compared to May, taking the average house price down to £216,403.

And Lloyds predicted a 5 per cent drop in house prices earlier this year.

Despite perceived uncertainty Rightmove adds that 44 per cent of new listings that came up for sale in the first month after the housing market in England opened on May 13 have already been marked as “sale agreed”.

This compares with 34 per cent for the equivalent dates last year.

In addition, Rightmove says the number of properties coming to market is up by 11.1 per cent this month compared with a year ago, despite data for Scotland and Wales not contributing to the full period.

On a regional basis, prices in Scotland rose by the largest amount where they increased by 4.5 per cent in July compared to March taking average prices to £166,322.

Scotland and Wales have different stamp duty systems but both devolved governments followed England and Northern Ireland’s lead in temporarily cutting tax on properties worth up to £250,000 until March 31, 2021.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: “The unexpected mini-boom continues to gather momentum.

“The busy until interrupted spring market has now picked up where it left off and has been accelerated by both time-limited stamp duty holidays and by home owners reappraising their homes and lifestyles because of the lockdown.”

But Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, doesn’t expect price to continue to rise.

He said: “Looking forward, we don’t expect prices to increase particularly strongly as the number of new listings is also rising, providing more balance between supply and demand. 

“We get the impression that many recognise this may be a relatively short-term surge as government support schemes start to fall away and news about the economy is not very encouraging.”

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