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UK property demand spikes 20% in January

Property for sale in the UK
Despite the positive start to year, the online property portal expects a "better-balanced market" over 2022 despite strong sustained buyer demand. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Property sales in Britain rose their highest level on record in January as strong buyer demand boosted the selling season at the start of year.

According to Rightmove (RMV.L), buyer demand jumped 16% compared to January last year, and 24% in comparison to January 2020. It rose 41% against 2019 levels.

The number of new homes coming to the market for sale also increase, rising 10% in the last half of January compared to the same time last year.

In addition, Rightmove said the number of enquiries from potential sellers to estate agents to value their home is at a record for January.

Meanwhile valuation requests to estate agents rose 27% compared to January 2021, 53% compared to 2020, and 52% compared to 2019.

"Strong buyer demand at the beginning of the year, even higher than that of January last year, shows us that people are still evaluating their needs and where they want to live, as they consider factors such as space, or returning to the office," said Tim Bannister Rightmove's director of property.

"The jump in new properties coming to the market over the last two weeks is a positive sign that there will be more choice to meet this demand during 2022, and the significant jump in valuation requests in the month compared to previous years, signals that there could be even more choice to come in the near future," Banister added.

Despite the positive start to year, the online property-portal expects a "better-balanced market" over 2022 despite strong sustained buyer demand.

Read more: UK housing market makes strongest start since 2005

In the rental market, tenant demand was up 17% compared to January 2021, and 33% compared to the same time period in 2020.

It comes after rental prices in the UK increased at the fastest rate on record as search in demand outweighed the supply of properties on the market. The average price landlords sought jumped 9.9% from a year ago in the fourth quarter and by 2.1% from the previous quarter. While growth in rental values outpaced gains in the cost of buying a home in all except three regions.

Richard Freshwater, director at Cheffins, said: "This January we’ve seen double the number of property valuations than in 2021 or 2020, and houses are selling like hotcakes."Whilst the increase in the number of houses coming up for sale might indicate more choice, there is a real urgency in the market at the moment from buyers, and on average we’re seeing thirty to forty requests for viewings for properties in all sectors of the market."

“However, hopefully there might be more breathing room as more houses become available to buy. Many people who were considering selling perhaps a year or so ago but put their move on hold, mainly due to Covid, now appear to be looking to get on with their lives and make the jump to selling up.

"Cambridge and the surrounding area have seen floods of new buyers, which has been exacerbated by the end of Plan B restrictions, with many people who perhaps moved to far flung locations during the pandemic looking to return back to easily commutable areas as they return to the office.”

A separate analysis by Halifax showed a record rise in UK first-time buyer numbers despite low affordability. The average first-time buyer age in 2021 was 32 and put down a £53,935 ($73,370) deposit on a property costing £264,140. The average age was up from 29 in 2011 and is now over 30 in every UK region.

Watch: How much money do I need to buy a house?