Record year for property prices despite pandemic

Despite the ravages of Covid-19, last year was a record year for property prices, with the average price increasing by more than £16,000 compared to the previous year, according to new government data.

By October, mortgage approvals had hit a 13-year high and November saw 124,800 transactions completed, 18,000 more than the five-year average.

At the same time, a third of UK homebuyers have been helped onto the property ladder for the first time, according to new research by Yes Homebuyers.

Their research found that for 27 per cent of recent homebuyers say the restrictions of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant they were able to save to get a property, with 46 per cent of those asked stating that the drastically reduced spend across their social life helped them to get a foot on the ladder.

The record house price growth was highlighted in a survey by mortgage specialist Haysto. It analysed the latest government data to see which towns saw the highest and lowest rate of property purchases in 2020 and which areas saw the biggest increase or decrease compared to 2019.

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire saw the biggest number of property purchases in 2020 with over 400 per capita. Properties in Huntingdon were, on average, almost £10,000 cheaper compared to the regional average in Cambridgeshire throughout 2020.

At the other end of the scale, Portsmouth had the fewest property sales, with only 50.9 per capita. Despite having a population of nearly a quarter of a million, there were only 1,267 properties sold over the course of the year.

For those climbing onto the property ladder, a reduction in family costs helped 10 per cent, while six per cent received an inheritance due to bereavement and five per cent saved on rent due to moving back home with their parents.

Matthew Cooper, founder and managing director of Yes Homebuyers, commented: “There’s no-one on the planet who wouldn’t like to erase the last year from history and lockdown has been hard for so many people for a whole variety of reasons.

“At the same time, there have been some great stories of resolve, survival and adaptation emerging across all areas of life and this is indicative of our nation and how we come together when times are tough.

“While we’re all chomping at the bit to get back to some form of normality, it’s also great to see that for a third of homebuyers lockdown has, at least, helped them to achieve their goals of homeownership.

“With little else to spend our money on and a further saving due to the stamp duty holiday, there’s never been a better time to get a foot on the ladder and hopefully, many more will continue to benefit.”

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