The housing market recorded its busiest-ever first week of the year for valuations in 2022, while average asking prices saw their fastest growth since May 2016, figures show.
Data from property website Rightmove showed January kicked off with a 44 per cent jump in valuation requests compared to the same time last year.
The first working day, 4 January, saw the fifth-highest number of valuation requests in a single day that Rightmove has ever recorded, as would-be sellers put their moving plans into action.
Estate agents currently have only 12 homes to sell on average, according to data from property website RightMove
Rightmove’s data also showed a 15 per cent increase from last year in the number of buyers inquiring about homes.
Prices have soared throughout the pandemic and the continuing shortage of available properties has pushed prices even higher.
The average asking price, according to Rightmove, is now £341,000, up 0.3 per cent or £850 compared to December 2021.
The figure is 7.6 per cent higher than it was a year ago, marking the highest annual rate of price growth recorded by Rightmove since May 2016.
This has been driven by a multitude of factors, including lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic and the fact that the supply of homes on the market is restricted, driving up competition.
The typical asking price for a UK home reached £341,000 in January, Rightmove said
Asking prices peaked in September, before falling slightly only to rise again this month
Estate agents on average have only 12 homes to sell, a record low, according to Rightmove.
Meanwhile, cheap mortgages and savings built up in lockdown have added to demand.
According to last year’s Budget forecasts, the house price rally will last five more years, with average prices rising 13 per cent by 2026.
Prices for homes in the ‘first-time-buyer’ bracket hit a record level in January, according to Rightmove, with an average of £214,176 needed to get on the property ladder.
Rightmove property data director Tim Bannister said: ‘All of the signs suggest that prices are likely to continue to rise until more choice is available.’
He added that the boost in valuations in January would take some time to translate into more homes on the market.
‘While this potential new supply will take a little while to appear on the market, it’s an encouraging sign of more choice for buyers in the coming months,’ he said.
‘The speed at which we’ve seen the fresh choice that has come to market being snapped up by eager buyers over the past 18 months is a reminder to buyers to move fast and book a viewing with the estate agent as soon as a property that could be the one for you comes to market.’
Looking at different regions, Rightmove’s data showed that three regions had seen price growth of more than 10 per cent in the past year – growth that Bannister described as ‘unsustainable’.
The most substantial asking price falls were recorded in Scotland and Yorkshire and Humber
These were the South West (11.6 per cent), East Midlands (10.4 per cent) and South East (10.2 per cent).
However, many regions saw asking prices drop slightly between December and January.
This included the South East, where they dropped by 0.4 per cent. Larger falls were recorded in Scotland (2.1 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (2.2 per cent).
Roger Wilkinson, managing director at Wilkinson Grant & Co estate agents in Exeter, said: ‘Despite a slow-down in activity over the festive period, Covid uncertainty, an interest rate rise and creeping cost of living, 2022 has picked-up where 2021 left off – with continued high levels of buyer demand and not enough homes available to choose from.
‘The signals are that prices will continue to rise this coming year, but a new mood of buyer realism will slow such rampant house price growth.’
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