Savills says the shape and size of the housing market in the coming months will be determined by the capacity of conveyancers and lenders to respond to demand.
Lucian Cook, the agency’s head of residential research, says figures on sales and prices demonstrate the widely-acknowledged increase in activity in the housing market.
He says this is down to the fact that economic uncertainty has been trumped by the desire of people to move to more suitable ‘Covid-friendly’ properties, and to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday which runs until the end of March.
“The number of deals that have been agreed in recently suggest that these figures will rise further in coming months. By how much really depends on the capacity of solicitors and mortgage providers to process the pipeline of agreed sales” he cautions.
“That will limit the number of sales able to be completed by Christmas and, unless something changes, the stamp duty deadline at the end of March” says Cook.
His comments came after news from the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry that house prices increased by 2.5 per cent to £239,196 in the year to August.
Month on month, prices rose by 0.7 per cent, the official house price index shows.
The strongest annual house price growth was in England where prices climbed by 2.8 per cent to £256,109, followed by Wales where there was a 2.7 per cent rise to £172,828. In Scotland prices gently edged upwards 0.6 per cent to £155,191.
Cook’s views are echoed by Sam Mitchell, chief executive at online agency Strike - formerly House Simple - who says with year-on-year figures still slightly down on 2019, it’s a reminder of just how long it can take for property transactions to complete.
“At the moment lenders, surveyors and lawyers are busier than ever and so it may be taking a little longer than usual. That’s why it’s so important that people don’t wait around to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, even if there is still five months to go until the deadline.”
Meanwhile Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says the official price and transaction figures may shortly prove outdated because of a slowdown in market activity.
“Although a little historic these numbers reflect sales agreed at least some months previously, they help to show the resilience of the market during the economic and pandemic turmoil.
“What we have noticed since activity cooled a little over the last few weeks is that very few buyers are withdrawing from transactions and very few instructions are being withdrawn from sale. Prices are sometimes being renegotiated to take into account current realities - in other words, much the same as was happening immediately after lockdown at the end of March.”