House prices soared by £275 a week to hit a record high by end of 2020

House prices soared at a rate of £275 a week to hit a record high by the end of last year, figures reveal

  • Despite the pandemic, house prices soared by 6 per cent according to Halifax
  • Mortgage approvals are at 13-year high but estate agents warn prices could fall
  • Property prices rose by £275 a week to hit record high of an average £253,374 

House prices soared at a rate of £275 a week to hit a record high by the end of last year, figures reveal.

Despite the pandemic, property values rose 6 per cent in 2020 to reach an average of £253,374, according to Halifax.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said 2020 ‘was a tale of two distinct halves for the housing market’, with prices down by the middle of the year after Covid-19 restrictions.

House values rose 6 per cent in 2020 to an average of £253,374, according to Halifax

He said: ‘When the market reopened, prices soared as a result of pent-up demand, a desire amongst buyers for greater space and the time-limited incentive of the stamp duty holiday.’

Mortgage approvals are at a 13-year high, but estate agents warn prices could fall after the lockdown, with March’s stamp duty holiday deadline and an anticipated unemployment rise.

Under the terms of the stamp duty holiday, the first £500,000 of any property purchase is exempt from the tax. This can save buyers up to £15,000. 

However, there have been increasing calls for it to be extended to allow for delays in the system caused by the third lockdown and to boost the property market if the restrictions proved to be a dampener. 

Although the property market will stay open during the upcoming lockdown, logistical issues and buyers’ personal safety concerns mean that levels of activity could still drop.

Andrew Montlake, managing director at mortgage broker Coreco, said that he ‘would not be surprised’ if Chancellor Rishi Sunak decided to extend the deadline.

He said: ‘Though the property market remains technically open, there will now be considerably more logistical issues for the simple reason that a lot of people will be working from home.

‘Lenders, valuers and conveyancers are already experiencing bottlenecks and delays given the sheer amount of applications going through, and the administrative upheaval caused by the latest lockdown will only serve to accentuate them.’

Busiest ever start to the year as home-hunters seek New Year moves 

Rightmove has recorded its busiest ever start to a new year, with visits to the site up 30 per cent on the same time period in 2020.

People contacting estate agents about a property to buy is 11 per cent higher than at the start of 2020, and those enquiring about a property to rent is up by 22 per cent.

The impending end to the stamp duty holiday, more people re-evaluating where they live and the housing market staying open have all contributed to Rightmove recording its busiest ever start to a new year.

Rightmove said it saw record viewings this week despite the new lockdown.

The property giant said it ‘gives hope to those who already have or those who are planning to put their property on the market to sell or rent out in early 2021.’

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