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‘Race for space’ fuelling busiest UK housing market since 2007

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA</span>
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

This year’s property market is poised to become the busiest for 14 years, with one in 16 privately owned homes on course to change hands by the end of December, according to new data.

The property website Zoopla also said the annual rate of UK house price growth was running at 6.9% – up from 3.5% in the same month last year – and that the average cost of a home had risen by £15,500 over the past 12 months.

Zoopla said it was forecasting that 2021 would be the UK’s busiest year for the property market since 2007 in terms of property transactions as the pandemic prompted many households to re-evaluate their priorities and the government’s stamp duty holiday encouraged sales.

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The website’s UK data for October comes days after official figures showed that house sales tumbled by more than half in the weeks immediately after the end of the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland.

HM Revenue and Customs last week reported that transactions across the UK slumped by 52% in the space of a month to reach 76,900 in October after thousands of homebuyers rushed to complete their purchases the previous month and beat the government’s end-of-September stamp duty holiday deadline.

The record surge in activity earlier in the year had also been driven by government guarantees for mortgages and a “race for space” prompted by the pandemic that has made many homebuyers prioritise properties with bigger gardens and more room for working from home.

Zoopla said: “2021’s property market will be defined by the pandemic-led re-evaluation of the home, with many households compelled to make a move.”

It said that while the annual price growth figure of 6.9% recorded in October marked a slight easing back from the above 7% growth recorded in August and September this year, the average rate of growth over the last three months was higher than at any time since 2014, underlining the strength of the market.

The most recent house price surveys from the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders depict a property market that is continuing to defy many expert’s expectations. Halifax said earlier this month that UK house prices rose for a fourth month running in October, adding 0.9% to the average cost of a home. The rival lender Nationwide said property values increased by 0.7% in October.

However, interest rate rises – the first is expected next month – and rising inflation could put a brake on the market.

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