The UK housing market, which emerged from the initial lockdown to the pandemic, is the strongest in years, fueled by a stamp duty, low interest rates and a collective re-evaluation of the quality of life, brokers said. (On July 19, the UK lifted almost all legal restrictions on social interactions, although the number of cases continued to rise and Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to self-isolate after his government’s health minister tested positive for Covid-19.)
The first six months of 2021 were the best-selling Transactions ever recorded by Rightmove, a leading real estate website. The company reported this week that the average asking price of properties coming to market hit a record high of 338,447 pounds sterling ($ 466,000) in June, the fourth straight month of record averages.
“The stamp duty exemption has shaped the market more than anything this year,” said Tom Bill, UK residential research manager at brokerage firm Knight Frank.
About last year, the first £ 500,000 ($ 688,000) on a home purchase was exempt from tiered tax, which ranges from 2 percent to 12 percent of the purchase price. The “tax exemption” expired on June 30th, but an extension with a lower threshold is underway. Bill said he expected the lower end of the market exception to have the biggest impact, but even wealthy shoppers rushed to do deals in prime central London in June, with Knight Frank seeing a record number of deals.
“It set the pace across all price ranges,” he said.
The average retail price in England was £ 271,000 ($ 373,000) in May, up 9.7 percent from the previous year, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. London had the highest average house price of any region at £ 498,000 ($ 685,000) but the lowest annual price growth of 5.2 percent.