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Housing market ‘less frantic’ completion pipeline flooded

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Property transactions are currently taking just over 100 days from sales agreed to completion, ‘but the volume of business means this could increase in the short term’, warned property portal Zoopla this week.

‘Those hoping to enter the market in January to beat the stamp duty deadline should be aware that just half of sales agreed are likely to complete in time’, it said.

A total of 418,000 properties worth £112bn are currently progressing through the sales pipeline – 140,000 more than the same period last year, Zoopla reported.

Its data shows that most new sales agreed in the final quarter of a normal year will complete by 31 March the following year. However, only 54 per cent of sales agreed in January will complete by the end of the first quarter, it said.

Regionally, sales agreed are running at their highest in the South East, London and South East.

The firm also noted that UK house price growth is running at 3 per cent – a two and a half year high. Northern cities are leading annual house price growth, with the highest growth rates in Nottingham (5.1 per cent), Manchester (4.6 per cent) and Leeds (4.5 per cent), it said. ‘This growth is expected to continue for the next two to three months and could peak at 4 per cent by the year end, buoyed by ongoing demand’..

But Zoopla expects the flow of new buyers into the housing market to slow. ‘Demand for homes is still 40 per cent higher than it was in 2019, but it has slowed back to pre-COVID levels of early March. That said, house price growth is expected to increase further towards 4 per cent over the next two to three months’.

Commenting on Zoopla’s latest UK House Price Index, its research and insight director Richard Donnell said levels of housing market activity were slowly becoming less frantic. ‘There is a sizable pipeline of business for the property, lending and conveyancing industry to convert into completed sales before Christmas and into the first quarter of 2021. The stamp duty deadline will focus the minds of committed movers in the near term, which will support sales volumes and make for a strong first quarter of sales completions in 2021’.