House prices soar as ‘the moving frenzy shows no signs of abating’

House prices soar as ‘the moving frenzy shows no signs of abating’

UK house prices hit yet another record high in April, as demand for moving home remains strong.

Residential property prices hit an average of £258,204 last month, as purchases continue to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and low borrowing rates.

Property prices were 8.2% higher than they were 12 months ago, marking the highest annual growth rate in five years, according to mortgage lender Halifax.

This means that the average home is now worth almost £20,000 more than it was before the pandemic.

On a monthly basis, prices increased by 1.4% or nearly £3,600 between March and April.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “In cash terms, almost £20,000 has been added to the value of the average home since the market had essentially come to a standstill in April 2020.

“The influence of the stamp duty holiday will fade gradually over the coming months as it’s tapered out but low stock levels, low interest rates and continued demand is likely to continue to underpin prices in the market.

“Savings built up over the months in lockdown have given some buyers even more cash to invest in their dream properties, while the new mortgage guarantee scheme may have eased deposit constraints for some prospective homebuyers who previously thought their first step on the housing ladder was a few years away.

“As we said in March, the current levels of uncertainty and potential for higher unemployment as furlough support ends leads us to believe that house price growth will slow to the end of the year.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says that limited supply and faster vaccine rollout is driving activity and upward pressure on prices.

“Values may soften when tapering of the stamp duty begins and furlough ends, but the pace is likely to slow rather than prices changing dramatically,” he said.

Jonathan Hopper, CEO of Garrington Property Finders, reports that the housing market in March was “nothing short of frenetic”, as 191,000 homes were sold across the UK in just one month – the highest number on record.

He commented: “Spring is traditionally a busy time for estate agents, but this year’s season has been supercharged by the unleashing of a year’s worth of latent demand from buyers, the wider availability of mortgages and the ‘vaccine effect’ as people start to feel the worst of the pandemic is past.

“For now the yawning imbalance between supply and demand is forcing prices up at breath-taking speed.”

Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “If you’re wondering why the roads are so busy, it’s probably because half the country seems to have packed their house into a moving lorry and be driving to their new home.

“The moving frenzy shows no signs of abating, and every month brings a new record house price.

“With an estimated £20,000 being added to the value of the average home compared to the time of the first lockdown last April, the potential savings on stamp duty might not outweigh the inflated price of your new home.

“If you are looking to sell your property, now might be the best time to push forward, if you want to avoid the risk of the bubble bursting when the time comes to put the ‘For sale’ sign out.”

Rob Gill, MD of the independent mortgage broker, Altura Mortgage Finance, added: “There is a deep-seated FOMO in the market right now, a fear among buyers that they could ‘miss out’ if they don’t hurry up and buy before prices spiral beyond reach.

“As prices accelerate, it’s certainly tempting to forecast it will all end in tears. However, history suggests that low interest rates, government support and an improving economy are classic ingredients for house prices to carry on rising rather than crash.”