Record-breaking start to 2021 for property market

Areas of Hertfordshire have seen some of the biggest increases in agent enquiries and online searche

Rightmove has recorded its busiest start to a year ever. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The new lockdown is doing little to dampen our enthusiasm for moving house, with one property portal reporting its busiest start to a new year ever.  

Rightmove recorded a 30 per cent increase in visits on the first Saturday to Wednesday of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, with more than six million visits on both Tuesday and Wednesday of last week (January 5 and 6). 

The number of people contacting estate agents regarding a property for sale also increased – up 11 per cent on the same period in 2020 – and enquiries about rental properties rose by 22 per cent.  

Rightmove’s director of property data, Tim Bannister, said: ”January is usually one of our busiest months of the year as people start to make new year plans to move.  

“We didn’t know how this year would start with so much change and uncertainty around restrictions, but it’s been reassuring for those people hoping or needing to move that the demand we’ve seen so far is the highest we’ve ever had in January.”  

The latest Halifax house price index was similarly encouraging, with prices at a record high at the end of 2020, up 6 per cent year-on-year in December to a new UK average of £253,374. 

The pace of growth slowed as the year drew to a close however, with December's monthly increase of 0.2 per cent the lowest of 2020, and significantly down on November’s 1 per cent rise.   

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Halifax managing director, Russell Galley, said: “In the near-term, and with mortgage approvals still sitting at a 13-year high, there may be enough residual strength in the market to sustain prices up to the deadline for the stamp duty holiday and the scaling back of Help to Buy at the end of March.

"However, with the pace of the UK’s economic recovery expected to be constrained by the renewed national lockdown, and unemployment widely predicted to rise in the coming months, downward pressure on house prices remains likely as we move through 2021.”