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UK house prices fall as sellers race to beat stamp duty deadline


Mike Starling

Dip comes amid surge in properties being sold at Homes Under the Hammer-style auctions

The recent record hikes in UK property prices have been reversed by a rush of sellers seeking to complete deals ahead of the end of Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday. 

In July, the chancellor announced that the stamp duty threshold on residential properties sold in England and Northern Ireland was to be increased from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.

The move “helped to stoke a strong recovery in the housing market after the country’s first coronavirus lockdown”, says Reuters, with mortgage lender Halifax reporting a 7.5% annual increase in prices in October - the highest such increase since 2016.

The housing market has remained open during the current, ongoing lockdown, and agreed sales are “well up on the same month a year ago”, adds Sky News.

But new figures from Rightmove show that average house prices have dropped by 0.5% in November. That equates to a decrease of just over £1,500 from the previous month, when the average asking price reached a record high of £323,000. 

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “Given the ongoing mini-boom, prices might have been expected to rise again this month.

“But instead we have a slight dip, which could be a result of some new sellers pricing more realistically to have a better chance of agreeing a sale in time to benefit from the stamp duty savings on their onward purchase.”

The BBC’s popular daytime TV show Homes Under the Hammer is being credited with helping to fuel a “new boom” in the property market, The Guardian reports. Property auctioneers are reporting a sharp increase in sales and bidders – particularly for family homes.

Estate agent Savills has sold property worth a total of more than £240m at auction this year, while Auction House has sold £65m worth in October alone.

Online auctions have helped to make such sale events more accessible to first-time bidders, while TV shows such as Homes Under the Hammer have made the practice “more mainstream”, Charles Lovell of Auction House Robinson & Hall told the paper.

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