According to property portal Rightmove (RMV) the last four weeks has seen the highest number of agreed house sales on its platform in a single month since it started tracking the data over a decade ago, helped by a waiver on stamp duty on houses worth £500,000 or less.

The firm believes ‘the rulebook has been rewritten as the post-lockdown mini-boom accelerates rather than slows down.’ The number of agreed sales on its site was up 38% on last year and 20% above the previous high, with a record total value of more than £37 billion.

Whereas there is usually a seasonal slowdown as buyers and sellers turn their attention towards summer holidays, the latest weekly sales agreed figure is a whopping 60% above the same period last year.

The firm has seen monthly price increases in 10 out of 12 regions, with a record high in new seller asking prices in seven of those regions despite the highest number of properties coming onto the market in a single month in over 10 years.

While prices normally fall at this time of year, the 0.2% drop in the Rightmove house price index is much smaller than the 10-year average of 1.2% and is entirely down to the ‘more normal’ 2% seasonal fall in London property prices.

In contrast, the exodus to the country – driven by the search for more outside space and a better work/life balance – has propelled prices to record levels in Devon and Cornwall.

Rightmove director and market analyst Miles Shipside observed that activity wasn’t just driven by the stamp duty holiday. ‘Sales agreed are up across all sectors of the market. They’re up 29% in the first-time buyer sector, 38% in the second-stepper sector and 59% for larger, top of the ladder homes.’

Separately, south of England estate agents Andrews reported a 29% increase in viewings between June and July and a 45% increase in the number of physical viewings.

Chief executive David Westgate said the firm saw ‘an immediate uplift in valuations and instructions since stamp duty was frozen, with sellers keen to take advantage of motivated buyers and more confidence to list thanks to stable house prices.’

Rightmove shares gained 1.2% to a three-month high of 629p while estate agent Foxtons (FOXT) jumped 7.5% to 38p.

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Issue Date: 17 Aug 2020