The volume of property sales this year in some popular rural and seaside locations has already eclipsed the number of transactions seen across the whole of 2019, a website has found.
Despite the housing market having shut down for several weeks during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rightmove identified 16 locations where the number of sales agreed by estate agents in 2020 so far has already surpassed the total for all of 2019.
Rightmove said that, as more home-movers escape to the country, the number of sales agreed in Fair Oak, Hampshire, is already up by 27% compared with sales there across the whole of 2019.
Pockets of Essex are also a popular choice for buyers, with Shenfield, Kirby Cross and Stanway experiencing sales increases of 11%, 9% and 5% respectively in 2020 so far, compared with the whole of 2019.
A spare room has become a must-have, people are looking for either an extra reception room or an outhouse in the garden that they can convert into an office
George Barker, sales negotiator at White & Guard in Fair Oak, said: “The pace of the market has been quite astounding, especially since the stamp duty announcement in July as our core market is selling properties between £300,000 and £500,000 where buyers can make the biggest savings.
“As we’re only a 15-minute commute away from Southampton, buyers can live in a more rural area but have a quick commute on the days they’re going in to the office.
“A spare room has become a must-have, people are looking for either an extra reception room or an outhouse in the garden that they can convert into an office.
“I really didn’t think it would be possible to be in a position where buyers have already been found for more homes than for all of last year, but the stamp duty holiday has given the area a helping hand.”
The housing market generally is still playing catch-up in terms of sales, with transactions across Britain generally down by 6% in the year to date compared with the same period in 2019, Rightmove said.
Rightmove’s property expert, Miles Shipside, said: “National statistics are drawn from hundreds of local markets, with villages and market towns peppered across the country benefiting most from the post-lockdown boom in activity and a shift in buyers seeking out more serene scenery.
“This is great news for sellers thinking of coming to market in these areas, but it will exacerbate the bottleneck that’s continuing to brew for conveyancers already finding it challenging to handle the surge in deals being done.”
Bigger homes that last year were taking around three months to sell are now selling within days
In north-west England, property sales in Formby in Merseyside, known for its beach and high sand dunes, are up by 12% in 2020 so far compared with the whole of 2019, the research found. And property sales in Handforth, Cheshire, which is within reach of Manchester for commuters, are up by 1%.
Harriet Robinson, sales negotiator at Entwistle Green in Formby, said: “Bigger homes that last year were taking around three months to sell are now selling within days.
“Buyers are saying they’ve realised their current home is too small and no longer fits with their new way of life, now that they’re working from home a few days a week.
“We’ve a lot of local buyers, but also people moving up from the South, as they can get a four- bed detached house for £500,000 up here.
“It’s a leafy suburb but also close to the coast, and at the same time you can drive to the centre of Liverpool within 20 minutes. Although the average asking price is higher than some nearby areas, we’re still seeing more first-time buyers than before, especially looking for renovation properties which are typically lower than market value.”
In the North East of England, sales in Choppington, Northumberland, are up by 3% this year compared with the whole of 2019.
In the South West, property transactions in Dartmouth in Devon are now 1% higher this year so far compared with 2019 as a whole.
However, Rightmove said there are no areas of London where sales numbers have overtaken 2019’s full-year figures yet.
It said Upminster in the east of the capital is the strongest market, with sales agreed up 42% so far this year compared with the same period last year.
Rightmove analysed all properties that were marked as sale agreed between January 1 and September 6 2020, compared with all those in 2019. All areas included had at least 75 sales agreed.
Here are the percentage increases in sales agreed in village and town hotspots, when comparing sales agreed in 2020 up until September 6 with sales across the whole of 2019, according to Rightmove, followed by the average property asking price:
1. Fair Oak, Hampshire, 27%, £364,066
2. Formby, Merseyside, 12%, £365,913
3. Welwyn, Hertfordshire, 11%, £691,694
4. Shenfield, Essex, 11%, £766,308
5. Kirby Cross, Essex, 9%, £307,821
6. Woodbridge, Suffolk, 8%, £388,353
7. Walsall Wood, West Midlands, 7%, £204,828
8. Bearsted, Kent, 5%, £459,253
9. Stanway, Essex, 5%, £311,419
10. Biddenham, Bedfordshire, 4%, £412,806
=11. Sturminster Newton, Dorset, 3%, £327,666
=11. Choppington, Northumberland, 3%, £119,968
=11. Broomfield, Kent, 3%, £334,037
=14. Handforth, Cheshire, 1%, £291,325
=14. Southam, Warwickshire, 1%, £268,277
=14. Dartmouth, Devon, 1%, £415,785