Prices of new property coming onto the market rose by 1% between 9 February and 7 March to push the national average to a new record of £312,625, according to new Rightmove data.
This is £3,186 higher than the previous record set in June 2018.
This month’s rise in property prices, with the average up by 3.5% compared to a year ago, is the highest annual rate of price growth since December 2016.
The key metrics so far all point to a much more active market than last year, fuelling upwards price pressure.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “The average asking prices of over 110,000 properties that have come to market this month are at a record high as we enter the traditionally busy spring moving season. As a result, we are measuring the highest annual rate of increase since December 2016.
“Many more properties are being bought, and bought more quickly than at this time last year. This is further fuelling the existing shortage of property available for sale, driving up prices to a new record high.”
Properties are selling an average of 6% faster nationally compared to this time last year, with the average time to sell now 67 days, down from 71.4 days a year ago.
The improvement in the time taken to find a buyer is most marked in London, which is 18%, or 15 days, faster than 12 months ago.
Nationally the number of sales agreed is up by 17.8% year-on-year, which is at the highest level for this time of year since 2016. This strong demand has not been matched by new supply with new seller numbers rising by just 1.2%.
Shipside continued: “New supply to the market has failed to keep anything close to the pace of demand. Purchasers in a position to buy have been snapping up what’s currently on the market, rather than waiting for the usual post-Easter flurry of fresh supply.
“There are marginally more owners putting their properties on the market compared to this time last year, but it is usual for sellers to want to wait for another month or two until there are more leaves on the trees to soften the starkness of their photographs and harden up their pricing prospects.”
Shipside acknowledged that it is hard to predict how this post-election boost in market activity will be affected by the unknown impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
He added: “The market has been waiting for several years for a window of certainty, and 2020 seemed set to be the year when many would look to make a move and satisfy their pent-up housing needs. However, the current fast pace of the housing market could now be temporarily affected by the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
“We expect that housing market statistics, like other economic indicators, could be prone to volatility over the spring and summer. However the market fundamentals are still very sound, hence the current surge in activity, which has included Rightmove’s five busiest days ever. There have been no signs so far of a drop in buyer activity or interest in the housing market.”
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