The property market across England sprung back to life in the last few weeks, after estate agents were given the green light to get moving again on 13 May
Hereford is the location attracting the biggest increase in interest from potential homebuyers over the past two weeks, a leading property website suggests.
Further north, Wigan, Rochdale, Wilmslow, Scarborough and Bolton have also seen queries from would-be buyers rocket compared to the first two weeks of March, Rightmove’s findings show.
The property market across England has sprung back to life in the last few weeks, after housing secretary Robert Jenrick gave estate agents the green light to get moving again on 13 May.
The seaside town of Hastings was the only location in the south of England to make it to the top ten places with the biggest hike in demand from potential buyers over the last few weeks.
Estate agents have seen a 77 per cent rise in buyer queries for homes in Hereford, which is near the Welsh border between the Midlands and the West Country, where the average cost of a home is £233,400.
One estate agent in the picturesque cathedral city likened lockdown to Christmas, when many people mull over their property plans, with the intention of springing into action in the new year.
Steven Thomas, a director at Watkins Thomas estate agents in Hereford, said his office had been ‘very busy’ since reopening last month.
Thomas added: We’re now seeing people, having sat down during lockdown and reviewed what they’re looking for, jumping into action in June. June and July is often quieter for us because this group of buyers are usually away, so that’s why we’re seeing a surge of late spring buyers.
He said he had seen a lot of interest from potential buyers currently located in the South East of England, particularly among people in their 50s and 60s ‘realising they can get a lot more for their money and can live in an area with acres of open countryside.’
Of course, it remains to be seen how many prospective buyer enquiries turn into hard cash for sellers and transactions for estate agents.
Job losses are mounting and once the Government’s furlough scheme is shut down for good, the amount of cash many people have to spend on a new home could drop sharply.
Eight of the most sought after locations for a new home are in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
One step behind Hereford, Wigan has seen a 71 per cent rise in buyer enquiries in the last two weeks compared to the first two weeks of March. With an average price tag of £165,448, which is well below the national average, the area is proving a hit with buyers who want to make their money go further on the home front.
Kristian Derrick, director of Ashtons estate agents in Wigan, said: Since the market reopened we’re finding that the majority of our three and four bed homes are selling for at least asking price, with many going to sealed bids with a number of buyers interested. We’ve also seen a big increase in the buy-to-let market, with investors able to purchase a terraced home in relatively good condition in a good area for under £100,000.
Nine of the top ten have average asking prices lower than the current average for England of £337,884, according to Rightmove’s latest findings.
The only exception is the affluent town of Wimslow, where average asking prices are around the £461,535 mark.
According to the new research, which spans around 95 per cent of all homes for sale from estate agents on Rightmove’s website, since the housing market reopened it is three to four bedroom properties achieving sales closest to asking prices.
The property website said that buyers for homes of this size are, on average, willing to pay 98 per cent of the total asking price across England.
This compared to 97.5 per cent of the asking price being achieved from the first-time buyer market and 97.4 per cent for top of the range, larger properties.
England bigger cities, like Newcastle Upon Tyne, Liverpool and Sheffield, are still proving popular among prospective buyers, and all three having average asking prices of less than £200,000.
Demand in London has risen by 19 per cent over the period, but for many the capital is simply out of reach, with average price tags at around the £628,000 mark, according to Rightmove.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s property expert, said: The fact that towns are bouncing back better than cities is indicative of many prospective buyers choosing smaller areas to live, but still looking for places that will have all the facilities they need on their doorstep.
He said, many of the towns in the list have cheaper prices so a buyer’s budget goes further allowing extra space for possible home-working and gardens for private relaxation. Our new analysis of the prices that buyers are agreeing to pay shows that properties in the typical family home or second stepper sector are achieving closest to their asking prices.
If you exclude London and some more expensive areas in the south then these types of home are typically in the £250,000 to £500,000 price band. These are currently appealing because they’re likely to benefit from more space and a private garden, attributes that home-movers tell us are now even more important than before lockdown, Shipside said.
There are still 175,000 sellers missing that would usually have come to market when it was closed, so sales agreed numbers will take a while to recover to normal levels, and much hinges on the deals that lenders are able to offer buyers in the current market, he said.
While estate agents may be busy talking up the property market, many uncertainties and questions remain about the extent to which it will recover over the next few years. The markets in Scotland and Wales also remain largely shut down due to lockdowns.
In-person viewings are restricted by social distancing measures and an upturn in the use of virtual property tours could end up unfruitful when it comes to a buyers’ real willingness to part with their cash.
On top of that, some banks and building societies are continuing to curtail mortgage deals, with many also tightening up lending criteria for borrowers.
Amid extensive economic turmoil, the Bank of England has predicted that average house prices across the UK could fall by as much as 16 per cent over the year, while others like estate agent Knight Frank and the EY Item Club think a five to seven per cent drop seems more likely.
The Office for National Statistics suspended the publication of its monthly house price index this week as a result of the turmoil in the sector triggered by the pandemic.
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