2 February 2021, The Evening Standard
By Joanna Bourke
A number of estate agents have reported a good performance for January, as buyers raced to get deals over the line before the stamp duty holiday deadline.
The stamp duty holiday, which was launched last July to help boost the housing market following the first lockdown, is due to finish at the end of March.
New data from Nationwide today said annual UK house price growth slowed for the first time in six months in January. It slowed to 6.4% last month, from 7.3% in December.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “To a large extent, the slowdown probably reflects a tapering of demand ahead of the end of the stamp duty holiday, which prompted many people considering a house move to bring forward their purchase.”
But some estate agents recorded a busy January as purchasers look to complete deals before March 31, while one housebuilder said demand looks encouraging from buyers unlikely to meet that deadline.
Chestertons said comparing January 2021 to December 2020, it conducted 21% more viewings, and agreed 18% more sales transactions.
Nick Barnes, head of research at Chestertons, said: “Following a record December, the sales market has maintained momentum throughout January.”
Winkworth, which has 60 branches in London, said 2021 got off to a strong start, with the number of sales agreed in January outperforming the Boris bounce of last January when there was a surge in sales following the decisive outcome of the General Election.
Visits to Winkworth’s website last month were up 20% year on year.
Meanwhile housebuilder Crest Nicholson’s boss Peter Truscott recently said the company will be monitoring how demand is when the stamp duty holiday finishes at the end of March. But he added: “The evidence so far is we are still making plenty of reservations for completions that go beyond the stamp duty deadline.”
A number of people have reassessed their housing needs during lockdowns, with some wanting more outdoors space for example.
Camilla Dell, managing partner at agent Black Brick, said the company had its busiest January since it was launched in 2007.