The number of buyers contacting estate agents is on the up despite a “slim chance” of them beating the stamp duty holiday deadline, according to Rightmove.
The number of prospective buyers contacting agents was up by 12 per cent between January 2 and 12 on the comparable period last year, while visits to the property website were up by 33 per cent.
Its house price index also indicated a fall of 0.9 per cent (£2,887) in the average price of a property coming to market in January, as the portal said some new sellers were looking to entice buyers and secure a sale before the stamp duty holiday ends.
Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove, said: “As we enter the new year and a new lockdown, the housing market remains open but is focused on the imminent end of the stamp duty holiday and on the challenges of the pandemic.
“These major influences on mover behaviour are clouding the 2021 outlook, but Rightmove’s early January market-leading indicators of buyer demand and the number of actual sales being agreed are looking robust, showing that there are many compelling reasons other than the stamp duty savings to make buyers enter the market in 2021.”
Mr Bannister added that while the tax savings were an “added incentive”, movers’ desire for more inside and outside space seemed to be continuing.
Indeed, a January survey of homebuyers found only three in 10 home purchases were motivated by the stamp duty holiday, indicating the market could remain strong after the tax break ends in March.
Rightmove also warned that new buyers were unlikely to beat the deadline for the tax break, quoting an average timeframe of 126 days from acceptance of offer until completion, according to its analysis.
The portal counted a pipeline of 613,000 sales agreed, but projected around 100,000 will miss out on the stamp duty saving.
Meanwhile some have called for an extension to the stamp duty holiday after England entered a third national lockdown.
A petition to extend the stamp duty holiday for an additional six months will be considered for debate in parliament as it reached over 100,000 signatures on Friday (January 15).
The government has previously said it does not plan to extend the temporary relief.
A response to the petition given by the government in December read: “As the relief was to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the government does not plan to extend this relief.
“SDLT is an important source of government revenue, raising several billion pounds each year to help pay for the essential services the government provides.”
But the response concluded that “all tax policy is kept under review and the government considers the views it receives carefully as part of that process”.
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