Property sellers are set for a bonanza Easter as the stamp duty holiday extension sparks record demand, experts say.
This month, average asking prices are already up £2,484 to £321,064 as frenzied buyers battle over limited supply, according to Rightmove.
The property website said the number of enquiries per listing on its website was at a record high, meaning this could be one of 'the best ever Easters to sell'. It comes as forecasters said prices were likely to soar again after Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the stamp duty holiday to the end of June.
Easter is traditionally the busiest time of year for estate agents, with Rightmove saying agreed sales in the first week of March were already up 12 per cent on the same period last year. The website's Tim Bannister said record low interest rates and the desire for better homes sparked by lockdown had also created the biggest excess of demand over supply for ten years.
'Blossoming demand coinciding with blossoming gardens should put a spring in the steps of sellers,' he added. 'More coming to market will provide a much needed increase in the choice of property for the many looking to buy.'
The current house prices has already helped push up the house prices to a record high.
Prices rose by 8.5 per cent last year to £252,000 on average, the highest annual growth rate since October 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics. An extension is likely to push them higher still. House prices could rise rise by five per cent this year, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts. That marks a huge turnaround from its November forecast of a 3.5 percent fall.
Thousands of homebuyers will have breathed a sigh of relief. Buying a home is stressful at the best of times, but in the recent months the usual strains have been magnified.
The stamp duty holiday created a frenzy of activity, with thousands more homebuyers than usual competing for conveyancers, surveyors and property checks.
The pandemic has added further strain, with social distancing rules making viewings more complicated and illness creating delays.
Without an extension, thousands of deals would likely have fallen through because buyers could not get a purchase over the line in time.
Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, says: 'Home buyers currently in the process of completing their property transactions can now breathe easy. The extension offers some much needed latitude to the industry as conveyancers have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of transactions - and should help ease the current bottleneck.'
The taper should also avert a cliff edge, softening the blow for buyers who don't complete by the end of June.
Rishi Sunak has said the stamp duty holiday will be extended until the end of June. That means homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland will pay no stamp duty on properties worth up to £500,000. The extension will save an additional 300,000 home buyers up to £15,000, according to property website Rightmove.
An extension to the deadline was widely expected. But in a surprise move, the Chancellor also announced that stamp duty will be tapered after the holiday ends. The threshold will drop to £250,000 until the end of September before returning to its normal level of£125,000.
Tens of thousands of young people will get their first step on the housing ladder under a mortgage scheme due to be announced in the budget this week.
Buyers will be able to obtain a mortgage with a deposit of only 5 per cent of the value of a property under the plan to turn "generation rent" into "generation buy".
The Treasury will guarantee part of the loan to encourage banks to offer riskier mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will outline the scheme in the budget on Wednesday. He said: "Owning a home ia a dream for millions and we want to help as many people as possible".