A boom in demand for rural living and the rise of working from home propelled house prices in the South West to grow at the fastest rate in the UK in the last year.
The average house price in the region soared by 17.2pc in the last year, according to lender Halifax, up more than 14 percentage points. Average prices jumped from £279,076 in February 2020 to £327,061 last month.
It was followed by East Anglia and the North West, where the average property price grew 16.1pc and 14.9pc respectively.
The surge in demand in the South West is due in part to an exodus from cities and a desire for more space, triggered by a year of lockdowns. Cornwall has now overtaken London as the most searched-for location by buyers, according to property site Rightmove.
Demand for bigger properties pushed up the average price, too. Rightmove reported a 38pc jump in the number of sales agreed on five-bedroom detached homes over the last year.
Buying a lifestyle – or a holiday let
Much of the price growth in the South West has been spurred by the second home market, with many seizing the opportunity to buy a property by the sea or in the countryside.
The stamp duty holiday, which is available to both homemovers and property investors, spurred a lot of activity. Those buying a second home can benefit from the tax break, paying only the three percentage point stamp duty surcharge for additional properties on the first £500,000.
Chris Clifford of Savills said: “Cornwall does a very good job of marketing itself as a place to live, and it has something for everyone.
“We have definitely seen increased interest from second home buyers, and I would say the top end of the second home market has really woken up and been very vibrant since June last year.”
Cornwall has also attracted investors, he said, with buyers purchasing properties to let for holiday stays as travel restrictions abroad remain in place.
A decade ago year-on-year average house price growth in the South West sat at 1.9pc before falling 1.5pc in 2012, according to Halifax. Growth has fluctuated since then, but shot into double figures this year at 17.2pc, up from 3.1pc in 2020.
Demand in Cornwall currently far outstrips supply, which is pushing up prices. Mr Clifford said one property in the south east of the county received 16 offers late last year, with the highest coming in at 44pc above the guide price.
Average sale prices in Rock, a small town popular with celebrities and boaties, are £1.296m, up 37pc on the previous year, according to Rightmove. This very high rate of growth is partly due to a small sample size, and also because people are buying bigger properties.
Many properties across the South West have been receiving multiple bids, leading to offers well in excess of asking prices, said Simon Cooper of Stags, an estate agency.
“The biggest reason has been people realising they can work from home long term. Perhaps they work in London but now actually need to be in the office very rarely, so they set up home in Devon or Cornwall and head to the office once or twice a month when needed,” he said.
He added: “The market has been incredibly busy since the end of the first lockdown in May last year, people are definitely selling for more than expected.
“Within minutes of a property going live on our website, we get multiple emails and calls asking for viewings.”