House hunt in London: a 17th-century church tower with updates
The UK housing market that emerged from the initial pandemic lockdown is the strongest in years, fueled by a stamp duty exemption, low interest rates and a collective reassessment of quality of life, said the brokers. (On July 19, Britain lifted nearly all legal restrictions on social interactions, even as the number of cases continued to rise and Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced into self-isolation after the Secretary to his government’s Health has tested positive for Covid-19.)
Busiest first six months of 2021 for sales transactions never recorded by Rightmove, one of the leading real estate websites. The company reported this week that the average asking price for properties put on the market hit a record high of 338,447 pounds sterling ($ 466,000) in June, the fourth consecutive month of record averages.
“The stamp duty tax holiday has shaped the market this year more than anything else,” said Tom Bill, UK residential research manager at broker Knight Frank.
For about a year, the first 500,000 pounds ($ 688,000) on a home purchase was exempt from the progressive tax, which ranges from 2% to 12% of the purchase price. The “tax holiday” expired on June 30, but an extension, with a lower threshold, is underway. Mr Bill said he expected the exemption to have the biggest impact on the lower end of the market, but even affluent buyers rushed to close deals in central London in June, Knight Frank registering a record number of transactions.
“It set the tone in all price brackets,” he said.
The average sale price in England was 271,000 pounds sterling ($ 373,000) in May, an increase of 9.7% 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 pounds ($ 685,000), but the lowest annual price growth at 5.2%.