0:04 AM, 14th April 2023, About 8 months ago
The popularity of buyers investing in flats is helping to propel the housing market back to its pre-pandemic level for the first time since September, research reveals.
And, according to Rightmove, sales are now just 1% behind March 2019.
The sales of flats are 10% higher than they were in March 2019, with London buyers leading the way.
Overall, the number of sales agreed has recovered most in London, where they are 11% higher than in March 2019.
But sales in the East Midlands are taking the longest to catch up and are still 11% below 2019’s figure.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, said: “The market is remaining surprisingly robust given the economic headwinds that have affected movers over the last six months.
“While the market is by no means at the exceptional level it has been over the last couple of years, it is a positive sign for agents that sales at a national level are being agreed at the same rate as the last more normal market of 2019, though there are regional differences across Great Britain.”
Robert Sturges, Chestertons’ central London area director, said: “Our offices carry a high proportion of flats and we have noticed a significant upswing in buyer demand for apartments of all sizes.
“This demand for flats is driven by professionals who wish to shorten their commute, parents who invest for their children but also overseas buyers who are taking advantage of favourable currency exchange rates.”
He added: “In the face of rising living costs, some buyers may also decide that a flat is financially more viable than a house at this moment in time.
“Another driving force behind the demand for flats are renters who review their finances amid rising rents and decide that, despite higher mortgage rates, buying presents a better option long-term.”
Rightmove says that across Great Britain, agreed sales are still 18% below the exceptionally busy market of this time last year.
Sales have been helped by mortgage rates edging down this year, with the average rate for a 5-year fixed, 15% deposit mortgage was 4.63% in March, down from 5.89% in October.
Meanwhile, the average size of price reduction in the listing price is also back to its pre-pandemic level of 6%, which is the equivalent of £22,000 based on the current national average asking price.
It had dropped to 5% during the pandemic.
The property platform says that a third of properties have seen a price reduction, which is up from last year’s 19% during the frenetic market, but in line with the pre-pandemic level of 34%.