Town Versus Country


Homes in London are taking two weeks longer to sell than the UK average as the housing market shows early signs of slowing down.

In May it took more than eight weeks to secure a buyer in the capital, compared to the national average of just under six weeks, according to Rightmove.

Across the country, the number of sales increased by 45 per cent in April compared to 2019 but declined to just 17 per cent up in May.

Record-high prices and an all-time low number of properties for sale are behind this slowdown in the property market, the property website said.

Low interest rates and the stamp duty holiday have meant many buyers could afford to pay more for a home. However, the June 30 completion deadline to qualify for the stamp duty holiday has taken away some of the urgency to move for those who haven’t yet found a new property.

However, cash-rich relocators from places like London have pushed up house prices in areas including Wales, which are up 14.6 per cent, and the south-west of England, which are up 11.4 per cent on March 2020.

People who have revaluated their lives during the pandemic and benefited from flexible work-from-home patterns have been able to buy bigger properties with gardens or surrounded by more countryside.

While UK property prices in general are 7.5 per cent up on March 2020, the biggest, most expensive homes are 12.3 per cent up on the same period, according to Rightmove.

London’s prime commuter belt towns such as Sevenoaks, Reigate, Dorking and Cranbrook have also seen prices increases, according to estate agent Jackson-Stops.

Towns and villages, which were once out of reach to five-day-a-week commuters, now present realistic options for hybrid or remote workers.

As many people wanting to change their lifestyles are choosing to relocate by buying a second home or leaving the city altogether, cash-rich buyers are causing problems for local affordability. For example, The south west has been long-established as a second home hot-spot, but has seen renewed impetus from main residence relocators being unshackled from the traditional locations for their daily commute.

The unprecedented demand has resulted in the lowest ever number of available properties per estate agency branch for any region in the country, down to just ten compared to the national average of 17. Some agents say that they’re pretty much sold out.

Those relocating to these more remote and lifestyle-rich locations from more expensive parts of the country have potentially bigger budgets than local purchasers, causing deteriorating local affordability.

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