Despite the pandemic, the housing market has remained buoyant over the past year or so, thanks to a combination of government initiatives and the changing needs of buyers.
And while the Stamp Duty Holiday has ended now, which will no doubt have a knock-on effect on the industry, the early signs are that 2022 could be yet another good year for those looking to sell their homes.
However, this must be tempered with warning signs from the mortgage industry and the impact of rising prices on first-time buyers.
The good news
The market got off to a flying start, recording its busiest-ever first week of the year for valuations, while average asking prices saw their fastest growth since May 2016, figures from Rightmove show.
Data from the property website revealed that there was a 44 per cent jump in valuation requests in January compared to the same time last year.
Indeed, the first working day, January 4th, featured the fifth-highest number of valuation requests in a day that Rightmove has ever recorded.
The figures also revealed a 15 per cent increase from last year in the number of buyers inquiring about homes.
And the trend has continued as the year has progressed; in April, house prices once again hit a record high, with Rightmove finding that the national asking price of a home reached £360,101. In London, the average rose to £667,110.
Wendy Clarke, partner here at Clarke Munro, said: “I’ve been working in the industry for my whole career and I’ve never seen it so busy – which is great news for us.
“With working lives changing so much, we’ve definitely noticed buyers are looking for different things; many are wanting extra space to work from home, and there is also a focus on outdoor space – both of which are clearly a result of the pandemic.
“We’ve also seen that, in some cases, people have built up savings over the course of the pandemic, and are looking to spend them on their dream property.”
If you’re looking to sell, all the signs – from increased demand to higher prices – are that 2022 will continue to be a good year for you.
The bad news
However, rising house prices aren’t always unequivocally a good thing, especially for those just starting out.
Figures from Rightmove also show that prices for homes in the typical first-time-buyer bracket reached a record level of £214,176 in January – rising from £173,185 just 10 years ago.
This means that, once again, younger buyers are stuck in a cycle of spending their wages on rent and being unable to save for a deposit, while prices continue to rise; according to forecasts, the house price rally could last until 2026, with average prices rising 13 per cent.
In fact, research by the Nationwide Building Society found that around 70 per cent of first-time buyers, caught between a cost of living crisis and rocketing house prices, were choosing to delay the purchase of their first home.
Partner Nicola Munro added: “While we live in a relatively affordable part of the country, prices have risen pretty much across the board.
“While this is great news for those looking to sell, as they can take their money with them to their next purchase, it’s a different matter for those starting from scratch.
“There’s also increasing competition for available homes – it’s very much a seller’s market at the moment – which disadvantages those without much wiggle room in their budget.”
Mortgage firms have also sounded a note of caution; according to UK Finance, the banking trade body, sales were so strong in 2021 that it was set to become a record year for mortgage lending.
However, it did also predict that, as the fallout from the pandemic continues, arrears and repossessions would rise over the next 12 months, forecasting arrears at 26 per cent higher this year, at 102,000, compared with around 80,800 in 2021. Home repossessions were also expected to climb by 267 per cent to hit 7,700 in 2022, compared with an estimated 2,100 this year.
That being said, the market itself looks likely to remain stable over the coming year, if not quite reaching the dizzy heights of 2021 – although, after two years of a pandemic, a return to normality is perhaps something to be welcomed.
If you’re looking to take advantage of a seller’s market to make your move, get in touch with our friendly, helpful and experienced team today.