One in 20 homes sold in December ‘went for more than asking price’

One in every 20 (5%) homes sold in December 2020 went for more than the original asking price, according to estate agents.

But this was half of the proportion which sold for above the asking price in November last year, when one in every 10 (10%) homes were purchased for more money than sellers were originally asking for.

Across the UK, the average number of prospective buyers registered per estate agent branch stood at 348, a sharp 41% decrease from 580 in November.

This marked the lowest number recorded since last May. But it was still the highest number recorded for the month of December since 2016.

The average number of sales agreed per estate agent branch stood at eight in December, down from 13 in November.

This was the highest figure recorded for the month of December since 2006, when the number also stood at eight.

First-time buyers made up 23% of sales in December, edging down from 24% in November.

A year earlier, 29% of property sales were to first-time buyers.

The figures were released by NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark.

The number of properties available per member branch stood at 33 in December, falling from 40 in November.

Mark Hayward, chief policy adviser, Propertymark, said: “While we would ordinarily expect to see a lull over the festive period, these numbers show that the tightening of lockdown restrictions, coupled with the reality that many individuals would no longer meet the stamp duty deadline, has exacerbated this.”

He said that as the deadlines are approached on March 31 for the current stamp duty holiday and equivalent property tax breaks in Scotland and Wales, “we are increasingly concerned about the pressure this is placing on the property industry with more than two-thirds (69%) of estate agents expecting to see an increase in failed sales due to buyers realising their sales will not complete ahead of the deadline”.

Mr Hayward added: “It’s important that action is taken now to prevent this and support the property sector.”