UK’s property market is booming – if you know where to look

The number of properties advertised for sale has increased sharply – by up to 40% – in seven of the country’s 20 largest cities, according to new research by Apropos.

The year-on-year data analysed by the firm compares the number of properties advertised for sale in October 2019 with October 2020 and found that Edinburgh has seen the largest increase with 40% more homes available.

Bradford recorded the sharpest decline, with 28% fewer homes for sale compared with the same time last year.

There are almost as many double-digit increases (seven cities) in properties advertised as there are large decreases (eight cities) with the remainder in between.

There is also a wide difference in the average time properties spend on the market with the shortest in Glasgow at 99 days and the longest Sunderland at 259.

David Alexander, joint chief executive officer of apropos, said: “These figures both confirm and contradict the widespread expectations of market performance following the end of lockdown. With the relaxation of the stamp duty land tax threshold in England and Wales and a similar move in Scotland with land and buildings transaction tax there was expected to be something of a property boom as buyers sought to take advantage of the improved tax savings.”

He added: “There was also a strong view that the market, after being locked up for so long, had produced pent-up demand which would be released as soon as people were able to move. Indeed, some of these figures reflect this with Edinburgh and London in particular bouncing back very strongly.

“The consequent increase in average time on the market in Edinburgh reflects this sudden jump in volumes which is making it harder to get sales through as quickly as before. Although it should be noted that Edinburgh is still one of the fastest places in the UK to sell a property.”

Alexander continued: “The areas which experienced a decline in volumes are, not unexpectedly, also those which have experienced high levels of infection and the consequent imposition of longer lockdowns and greater restrictions. The North West, Yorkshire and the North East are the three areas with the largest decreases in properties being advertised for sale.”

“This will have surprised nobody given that economic uncertainty always produces a faltering property market. If people are unsure about whether their jobs will remain, and this concern is exacerbated by continued lockdowns and restrictions on commercial activities it is clearly not the formula to produce higher house prices.”

“These figures show that the UK property market is experiencing widely differing performances in each area. This is perhaps not surprising, but the scale of the difference is quite marked and reflects the different experiences each area has had both during and after lockdown.

“The announcement of a workable vaccine may now make the position more stable in the more vulnerable areas, but it is clear there is still some way to go. Quite what the impact on the busier areas will be when the stamp duty thresholds are returned to normal is unknown, but it is unlikely to bolster sales. However, it is equally unlikely that there will be a sudden slump. Maybe a minor dip in the late Spring reflecting a slowing in activity once the financial incentives have ended. Of greater importance will be whether unemployment is rising and if the economy is returning to normal.”

Location             Average time on the market       Number of advertised properties for sale

2019 (2020)       %                          2019 (2020)       %

Edinburgh          96 (127)              +32                      1614 (2261)       +40

London               229 (211)            -8                         53639 (66537)   +24

Bristol                 128 (111)            -13                       3064 (3502)       +14

Brighton             141 (137)            -3                         2576 (2922)       +13

Coventry            117 (115)            -2                         1684 (1908)       +13

Birmingham       155 (159)            +3                        4267 (4693)       +10

Manchester       162 (187)            +15                      4788 (4833)       +1

Cardiff                 169 (178)            +5                        2621 (2601)       -1

Leicester             147 (142)            -3                         2277 (2225)       -2

Nottingham       149 (137)            -8                         2704 (2566)       -5

Sheffield             163 (168)            +3                        1451 (1371)       -6

Leeds                  151 (164)            +9                        2509 (2306)       -8

Glasgow             108 (99)              -8                         2897 (2615)       -10

Hull                      138 (147)            +7                        1921 (1712)       -11

Belfast                189 (200)            +6                        1603 (1398)       -13

Wakefield          176 (156)            -11                       661 (574)            -13

Newcastle          225 (237)            +5                        4060 (3418)       -16

Sunderland        279 (259)            -7                         1592 (1239)       -22

Liverpool            196 (212)            +8                        6765 (5154)       -24

Bradford            185 (192)            +4                        2420 (1733)       -28

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