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Average asking price of new UK homes ‘hits record high’ | Money

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The average asking price of homes coming on to the market in Britain has hit a record high, according to figures from the property website Rightmove, and for the first time estate agents are listing more homes as sold than they have for sale.

The website’s monthly snapshot of new listings showed sellers are asking for an average price of £323,530, an increase of 1.1% since last month, and 5.5%, or £16,818 more than this time last year.

It is the latest in a string of reports showing a booming housing market fuelled by temporary stamp duty holiday and a so-called “race for space” as households have reconsidered their lifestyles during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rightmove said homes were changing hands quicker than ever, leaving agents with more properties marked as sold than available for sale.

However, it said there were signs that activity levels may be easing off. In September, the number of sales agreed was up by 70% year on year, but the figure has fallen to 58% in October.

The website said that its forecast of a 2% rise in asking prices made in December 2019 now looked “too timid” and that it was revising up its estimates for 2020 to 7%.

Rightmove’s data shows that asking prices have risen across the board but that the biggest monthly move has been in what it calls “top of the ladder” properties, typically four-bedroom detached and larger homes.

These properties are now going on the market for an average of £575,594, a rise of 2% on last month’s figure. In England, where the stamp duty holiday applies to properties costing up to £500,000, these are homes where buyers will benefit from £15,000 in tax savings.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “Prospective buyers are seeing properties selling fast and prices rising as they search for their next home adding to momentum and spurring them on to act quickly.

“With the number of buyers contacting agents still up by two-thirds on a year ago, there is plenty of fuel left in the tank to drive further activity in the run-up to Christmas and into next year.”

However, he warned that although many buyers seemed willing to pay record prices, “agents are commenting that some owners’ price expectations are now getting too optimistic, and not all properties fit the must-have template that buyers are now seeking”.

Separate figures from property firm Savills also showed strong activity at the top of the housing market, with a rise in sales of homes costing more than £1m.

An average of 868 £1m-plus sales have been agreed each week since the beginning of June, 66% higher than the weekly average over the same period in 2019, data from Savills and agency TwentyCi show.

The Cotswolds recorded a 94% in increase in deals over the period, followed by nearby South Oxfordshire, up 78%, then Dorset, up 69%, Savills said.

In London, travel restrictions appeared to have hit overseas demand for homes in upmarket neighbourhoods such as Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden, which covers pricey streets alongside Regent’s Park. Sales of £1m homes in these boroughs were down by 10% for the year.

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Sales were up in areas of the capital where money buys more space, and as a whole the city recorded 4% more high-end homes changing hands than in 2019.

Lucian Cook, Savills’s head of residential research, said: “Lifestyle relocation has been a big theme in the market since lockdown began to ease, and this is very clearly reflected in the numbers.”

Cook predicted that by the end of the year there will have been more £1m-plus sales than in 2019, “a performance nobody could have anticipated in the depths of lockdown”.

“That said, recent evidence suggests fewer high-value homes are now coming to the market, suggesting we may be hitting a high plateau,” he added.


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U.S. reports record 99,321 new coronavirus cases as scientists warn latest surge just beginning

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The U.S. reported 99,321 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, beating its previous record set only a day prior as the pandemic worsens in nearly every corner of the nation.

“We’re at a point where the epidemic is accelerating across the country. We’re right at the beginning of the steep part of the epidemic curve,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” on Friday evening.

“You’ll see cases start to accelerate in the coming weeks,” he said, predicting the height of the country’s recent surge will be reached around Thanksgiving. Gottlieb said that “December’s probably going to be the toughest month.”

The U.S. is continuing its upward climb on what’s now the pandemic’s third peak, with cases growing by 5% or more in 43 states as of Friday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are now more than 9 million reported Covid-19 cases in the United States, which added an additional 1 million cases in only two weeks, according to Hopkins.

Over the last week, the U.S. reported an average of roughly 78,738 new cases every day, the highest seven-day average recorded yet and up nearly 25% compared with a week ago. The top five records in daily reported cases have all been reached within the last eight days, according to Hopkins data.

While the U.S. is conducting record-high levels of testing, it can’t entirely explain the recent rise in infections, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the government’s testing effort, said Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show. He added that hospitalizations are also rising and deaths are gradually following, metrics that usually lag behind climbing cases.

As of Friday, 18 states reached record-high hospitalizations based on a seven-day average, particularly in the West and Midwest — Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming all hit records, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Although some have referred to the latest peak in cases as a “third wave,” White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports” aired on Friday that the country is still grappling with its original wave of infections.

That’s because the U.S., unlike other countries, never reported an average of less than 20,000 daily Covid-19 cases at any point in the pandemic, he said. As the outbreak that originally ripped through New York and the Northeast began to decline in the spring, America’s Sun Belt states began reporting swelling outbreaks and infections rose again over the summer.

“We never got out of the real wave. We kind of went up and down within a wave,” he said. “When I hear people talk about second and third waves, it really is the original wave that just resurges up, comes down a little, and resurges up again.”

The U.S. is now facing daily case counts that are “extremely high and quite unacceptable,” Fauci said. He previously said in early August that the goal was to suppress the daily total to below 10,000 before September. Now, experts like Gottlieb predict the U.S. will report 100,000 new cases within the coming days.

“We’re in a precarious position over the next several weeks to months,” Fauci said, urging people to continue wearing face masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands, avoid crowds and spend time outdoors over indoors as much as possible.


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Coronavirus vaccine disinformation will continue

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2020 Election: Coronavirus vaccine disinformation will continue