Housing sales boom: More buyers than houses as the property market surges in Scarborough
As the deadline for the stamp duty holiday approaches, the housing market across the country is booming.
In Scarborough sales have been growing since the end of the first lockdown and don’t show any signs of slowing down.
Naomi Blades, senior branch valuer at Hunters Scarborough, said: “It’s super busy, I’ve never known it this busy since we opened.
“There’s a higher volume of buyers than there are properties. We have a list of buyers waiting for properties.
“We’ve had a lot of buyers relocating from cities – you’re getting people who now only have to go into their London office once or twice a month so they’re looking for a better standard of life and commuting.”
A combination of factors including people being stuck in their homes so much over the past year, the stamp duty holiday, and people increasingly moving to permanently working from home has led to a rise in demand for properties in areas such as Scarborough where there is more space on offer, closer to more green spaces.
Research by Zoopla shows that the local authority of Scarborough saw the biggest growth in demand for two and three bedroom houses in the eight weeks from March 3 versus the previous eight weeks this year, an increase of 142 per cent.
Zoopla also found properties in Scarborough tend to be bigger, meaning buyers are getting more for their money compared to elsewhere in the region.
James Kirk, associate partner at Colin Ellis estate agents in Scarborough, confirmed the findings. He said: “I’ve worked in the industry for 12 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.
“We used to average 12 viewings in the first week and now it’s more in the mid 30s.
“I’ve had to allocate full afternoons to viewings for just one property because so many people are interested.”
Helen Aylward, who bought a house in South Cliff last December, explained how, upon arriving at one viewing, she was told it had already been sold.
After viewing another property, Helen and her husband put in an offer quickly.
She said: “There were quite a few properties coming on but they were selling really fast.”
Chris Emerson, residential surveyor and valuer at Emerson Survey and Valuation Ltd, based in Harcourt Place, Scarborough, said a combination of a seller’s marketplace and housing stock not meeting demand means prices are rising.
But high prices are not deterring buyers, who may have a larger budget than usual due to selling properties in city centres.
Mrs Blades added: “There’s a huge demand for very expensive properties. Those which are £400,000 and above are going very quickly.
“We’re putting things on and they’re getting full asking on the first viewing, whereas a few years ago they would have been on for weeks if not months.”
With the state of the property market as it stands, there is little room for negotiation from the buyer’s side.
Mr Emerson said: “The mindset used to be how willing are the sellers to accept an offer slightly under, and now it’s more like how willing are the buyers to go above and beyond it.”
This was echoed by Mr Kirk who said: “It would be silly to offer below, it’s gone from 10 to 12 buyers per property to 30.”
The cost of UK homes is at a record high and Yorkshire and the Humber has seen the biggest annual growth since 2006.
Helen Aylward added: “I love the sea and the coast, it’s just stunning with the views.
“I pinch myself every day.
“I haven’t regretted it once and it’s exceeded my expectations really.”
Second Home haven
It’s not just people permanently moving to Scarborough who are buying homes here.
Chris Emerson explained: “A lot of our customers are often looking for second homes and holiday lets.
“They can get more for their money and make a substantial saving.”
With the future of foreign travel still so unsure, with quarantines and testing making it unfeasible for some, more and more people who can afford to are spending their money securing a holiday home in the UK.
Naomi Blades and James Kirk have also both worked with a large number of customers looking for second homes, with South Cliff an area of high interest.
Paul Sydney and his partner Sue, from North Nottinghamshire, bought a house in November 2020 in Holbeck Road.
Mr Sydney said: “I’ve been up to the coast like most people for a day or a few days but we didn’t realise how big it is. It’s huge and it’s got so much to explore.
“We thought about Whitby but it’s more expensive, smaller and now we actually prefer Scarborough.
“We find Scarborough has everything we need and it’s the proximity – it’s two hours away so we can get up on a morning, decide we’re going and be there in a few hours.”
Stamp Duty holiday
The Government introduced a stamp duty holiday last July which brought the level from which the tax is paid up from £125,000 to £500,000.
It was intended to help buyers whose finances had been affected by the pandemic and boost the property market.
Originally set to end in March, it was extended to the end of June with a staggered return to the original rates by the end of September.
How this will affect the current boom in property is not yet known, but property experts in Scarborough think the market will remain buoyant for the rest of the year. Mr Kirk said: “I thought [it] was a bigger incentive than it was. Rightmove recently told me that only 4 per cent of people they surveyed would mind paying the original stamp duty.
“Getting a more suitable house for this new situation we’re living in is more important."
Mrs Blades said that whilst the holiday had incentivised people to buy quickly she doesn’t believe it has been the root cause of people wanting to move.