House price tags have edged down from record highs in a sign that sellers are now rushing to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday next March, according to a property website.
Rightmove has charted a strong increase in demand and asking prices since the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, moved in July to give the market a post-lockdown lift by suspending the purchase taxes for homes costing up to £500,000.
The website noted a change in behaviour this month, however, reporting that price tags had dipped by 0.5% – just over £1,500 – on October’s survey, which reported a record average asking price above £323,000.
The housing market remains open, despite new, broader coronavirus restrictions across the UK – and the website said activity remained high with agreed sales well up on the same month a year ago.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “Given the ongoing mini-boom, prices might have been expected to rise again this month.
“But instead we have a slight dip, which could be a result of some new sellers pricing more realistically to have a better chance of agreeing a sale in time to benefit from the stamp duty savings on their onward purchase.”
Rightmove forecast a 7% leap in prices for 2020 – driven largely by pent-up demand and a broad desire to secure more space as the number of people working from home soars.
The price surge is in line with other surveys, which have charted the biggest leap in activity since 2016.
But the stamp duty holiday is due to end at the end of March next year and market analysts expect the deadline to coincide with a slowing in demand, as the economy emerges from a tough winter and the end of the Brexit transition period.
Rightmove urged sellers to be realistic in their pricing if they wished to beat the stamp duty deadline, given tightened lending criteria and pressure on incomes from the virus crisis to date.
Mr Bannister added: “We know from a recent Rightmove study that sellers are twice as likely to sell if they agree a sale based on the first price at which their property goes on the market, something that’s even more important now as we move towards the end of March and the end of the stamp duty holiday.
“If your initial asking price is too high, then you’re less likely to get an offer even after you’ve cut your price back to a more realistic level.”
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