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UK housing market: asking prices see record hike after election released 'pent-up demand'

A report by Rightmove adds to evidence that the election result has evoked renewed optimism

Phil Thornton
Monday 20 January 2020 08:13 GMT
What can house prices tell us about the economy?

Asking prices of properties coming onto the UK housing market have surged by 2.3 per cent since the general election, the largest monthly rise ever recorded at this time of the year.

Rightmove, which tracked the prices of 65,000 properties, said the average asking price rose by £6,785 to £306,810 between mid-December and mid-January, up by 2.3 per cent on the previous month and 2.7 per cent on a year earlier.

It also said new buyers’ enquiries to estate agents were up by 15 per cent to 1.3 million compared to the same period a year ago. There was a 7.4 per cent annual increase in the number of sales agreed.

Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at Rightmove, said the figures indicated that many buyers and sellers felt the election result had given a “window of stability”.

“The housing market dislikes uncertainty, and the unsettled political outlook over the last three and a half years since the EU referendum caused some potential home movers to hesitate,” he said.

“Whilst a substantial rise is the norm in January, buoyed by the start of a new year, this is the biggest new year price surge that we have ever recorded.”

Mr Shipside said that while there might be “more twists and turns” in the Brexit saga, there was now an opportunity for sellers to get their property on the market for a spring move unaffected by Brexit deadlines

“There now seems to be a release of this pent-up demand, which suggests we are in store for an active spring market. The early birds are on it, with over 1.3 million buyer enquiries to agents since the election,” he said.

Asking prices for properties in the month following the 2019 general election was the largest month-on-month rise for a December-January period (Rightmove)

However, Mr Shipside warned sellers not to get “carried away” with their pricing and miss out on a window of increased activity, saying that high prices meant many buyers faced stretched affordability.

The Rightmove report will add to growing evidence that the election result has triggered renewed optimism in the housing market. Last week Halifax said prices rose in December at the fastest pace since 2013, while the surveyors’ organisation RICS said 17 per cent more respondents had seen a rise rather than fall in enquiries from new buyers.

However, the Rightmove survey showed there was a north-south divide. The west midlands saw the fastest monthly rise of 2.6 per cent, followed by the east of England with 2.3 per cent and 2.1 per cent in Greater London.

Wales recorded a fall of 0.9 per cent and Scotland saw a 0.8 per cent drop while Yorkshire and Humberside showed the weakest increase of 0.1 per cent.

Marc von Grundherr, director of London estate agency Benham & Reeves, said even the “slightest inkling” of returning market stability had been enough to “reignite the fires” for both buyers and sellers.

“A tsunami of buyer demand soon spurred an increase in asking prices and savvy sellers were quick to ride the turning tide to ensure they secured the best price for their property,” he said.

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