Movers suffered from fear of missing out, numbers suggest.
The Rightmove House Price Index has revealed the biggest monthly jump in the price of property coming to market in more than 20 years, with the average asking price at £348,804 in February – a record £7,785 more than last month.
Prices are now 9.5% higher than a year ago, the highest annual rate of growth since September 2014.
The record means that average asking prices have now risen by nearly £40,000 in the two years since the pandemic started, compared to just over £9,000 in the previous two years.
The reason for this growth, numbers suggested, is that both buyers and sellers feared missing out in the current competitive market.
In a market still short of available stock, more potential buyers – 16% more than this time last year – sent enquiries to agents to try to beat the crowd.
The number of people requesting a home valuation from an estate agent was also up 11% in January compared to last year, with London recording the biggest annual jump in number of buyers sending enquiries of any region.
London also recorded its highest annual rate of price growth since 2016, as the end of pandemic restrictions and a return to the office fuelled renewed demand in the capital, the report noted.
“The data suggests that people are by no means done with their pandemic-driven moves,” said Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data. “Such a significant societal event means that even two years on from the start of the pandemic, people are continuing to re-consider their priorities and where they want to live.”
Bannister added: “The rising cost of living is undoubtedly affecting many people’s finances, especially those trying to save up enough for a deposit to get on the ladder or to trade up. However, despite rising costs and rising interest rates, the data right now shows demand rising across the whole of Great Britain, with many people determined to move as we head into the spring home-moving season.”
While there was still a mismatch between buyer demand and supply of available homes, there are early signs of a better-balanced market, with the number of new sellers listing their homes for sale up 11% from this time last year, providing some much-needed fresh property choice.