Demand for property soars - why Essex and Kent remain buyer hotpots

23 April 2021

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When selling a home, you will want the reassurance that you’re in an area which favours sellers – one with high demand from buyers and quick selling times.

Recent data revealed that West Thurrock, an Essex town which straddles the River Thames and is very close to a number of areas we cover here at Balgores Property Group, is the place where homes are selling quicker than any other in the county.

The research analysed data from the Land Registry and Rightmove between March 2020 and March 2021 to see which postcodes were most in demand from buyers, and the postcode with the quickest turnover rate in Essex is RM20, which covers West Thurrock.

This town, while surrounded by industry and known for being home to the Lakeside Shopping Centre, has a population of around 7,750 permanent residents and a strong community feel. Homes in the town, situated between Purfleet and Grays, are on the market for an average of just 60 days.

It usually follows that if houses are selling like hot cakes in one area, this is also happening in other nearby areas, which will give sellers in places like Upminster, Basildon, Hornchurch, Dagenham, Gravesend and Romford confidence that they are operating in a seller’s market.

This is backed up by current market conditions – with high demand helping to keep prices high and ever-rising. The extension of the stamp duty holiday to the end of June, and then to the end of September for properties priced under £250,000, is helping to drive this continued high demand, along with favourable borrowing conditions as a result of record low interest rates and a good selection of mortgage products.

Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the property market continues to remain resilient with no signs of major price falls anytime soon.

What is buyer and seller activity like at present?

This year’s spring selling season is blooming, according to the latest snapshot of buyer and seller activity on Rightmove. It recently witnessed the highest number of property sales occurring in one day within the past decade on Tuesday March 23, while visits to Rightmove’s platforms exceeded the level recorded on Budget Day on Wednesday March 3, hitting a new record on the Tuesday and Wednesday of the week commencing March 22, when visits were over 9.1 million.

Prices are being kept high by the age-old supply/demand imbalance, with new listings having a slower start than usual in the first few months of the year (probably due to the third national lockdown). This inevitably led to a market with the largest excess of demand over supply seen in the past ten years.

Now, though, the weekly number of listings coming to market is improving, and recently saw the highest for the year so far, and the highest since October last year.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said of the findings: “It’s very much a sellers’ market. The lack of stock is still an issue, but there are definitely some green shoots starting to emerge with listing numbers improving.”

“There are definite signs that those sellers who were waiting earlier in the year are now making the most of the spring selling season and, with gardens starting to blossom, it’s a particularly good time to showcase these types of features to the growing number of buyers looking for more outdoor space.”

Meanwhile, Zoopla – another major portal – recently released its latest house price index, which showed that demand for homes spiked by 24% in the week following the Budget – when Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty extension and the introduction of a 95% mortgage guarantee scheme - and is now running 80% higher than normal levels.

At the same time, supply is down by 13%, with the continued supply/demand imbalance driving upward pressure on prices. Average price growth across the UK currently stands at 4.1%, while the average time to sell a property in the UK has fallen by nearly a week across the UK, excluding London.

The report also found that the pandemic is continuing to polarise demand for property, with houses now selling three weeks faster than flats as people seek more space and properties with gardens.

What’s more, demand for three-bed homes jumped by 30% in the week after the Budget – again, with people seeking more space and perhaps a home in a more affordable location, where you get more bang for your buck.

Zoopla predicts that more than half a million buyers are expected to benefit from stamp duty relief by the time the holiday ends. The property website estimates that there are currently around 130,000 properties for sale in England that will be stamp duty free for another six months, when the holiday will finally end.

Why are Essex and Kent buyer hotspots?

As well as the excellent market conditions currently on offer for sellers, making the chances of selling a home for a good price, in a good timeframe, far better, the pandemic has also boosted areas just on the outskirts of London, which offer more in terms of countryside, greenery, space and affordability.

The escape from central London to outer London areas and the Home Counties has been long established, and predates the pandemic, but it has been given a further boost in the last year as people have sought peace and quiet, extra space and homes better set-up for kids and home-working.

What’s more, many of the towns, cities and even villages in Essex and north Kent have excellent transport links which provide fast commutes to London for those who still need to be in the big city from time to time.

People will get better value for money away from central London, but they needn’t give up on bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and cultural events, which will become much more important again now that we’re slowly exiting lockdown. There are plenty of these on offer, but the escape to the countryside and the coast is much easier to achieve.

Here at Balgores Property Group, we can help you to get your property sold quickly and for the best possible price - all while following government health and safety guidelines to the letter.

For further guidance on any part of the moving process, get in touch with our expert team today. You can also get a free and instant online valuation to see how much your property could be worth in the current marketplace.

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