The UK housing market is at boiling point. The latest Halifax House Price Index reports that house prices increased a further 1.4 per cent in April, putting the annual house price increase between April 2020 and April 2021 at an eye-watering 8.2 per cent.
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This property price hike marks yet another recent record – this time, the figures are showing the highest annual growth rate in five years. The average UK house price now sits at £258,204.
House prices are still rising
Russell Galley, Managing Director of Halifax, sees in the current figures a reflection of a buoyant market bolstered by the ongoing stamp duty holiday, Covid savings, and, to an extent, the Government’s mortgage guarantee scheme.
‘We do expect recent levels of activity to be sustained over the short-term as buyers continue to search for homes with more space and potentially better suited for their new working patterns,’ he explains.
‘Savings built up over the months in lockdown have given some buyers, even more, cash to invest in their dream properties, while the new mortgage guarantee scheme may have eased deposit constraints for some prospective homebuyers who previously thought their first step on the housing ladder was a few years away.’
However, anecdotal evidence from house buyers paints a very different picture of a market that is increasingly difficult and stressful for buyers to navigate, with a scarcity of homes creating a frenzy. The BBC reports that many buyers are finding themselves unable to secure viewings because all are booked up within minutes of a house listing going live.
Homes are increasingly being sold via the ‘best and final offers’ method where each buyer only gets one shot at putting in an offer on a house.
Given this harsh reality of buying a house in the current sellers’ market, what can – or even should – a buyer do to keep cool-headed and to succeed in securing a house?
Tips for house-hunters in the current market
‘In this type of crowded market, the best advice I can give buyers is to be prepared,’ says Ross Counsell, chartered surveyor and director at GoodMove. ‘If you are set on buying a new home, look at listings everyday and know exactly what it is you’re looking for in a property.
‘Research the area/streets you’d like to live in-depth and have a mortgage-in-principle ready to go too. It’s also often worth enlisting the help of an estate agent who will let you know of any suitable properties first before they go on the wider market.’
For beating the soaring house prices, Ross had this piece of advice: ‘look for properties under your budget. If you like the property so much as to put an offer in, then you can go in with a higher offer that will stand you in good stead over other people looking to buy. You’ll likely save yourself a lot of money in the process and be a frontrunner for the sale.’
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of acting quickly. ‘It goes without saying – but act fast. Buying a home is a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be rushed, but if you view a home and fall in love with it and know the area is right for you, then put your offer in straight away.’
‘Sellers’ no.1 goal is to sell their house and get their money, and they’ll always favour a buyer who is interested and moving fast rather than one who takes their time. It can be disheartening for buyers at this time, but keep positive, be prepared, act fast and soon you’ll find your dream home.’