Estate agents have reported “phones ringing off the hook” and record traffic to their websites after the chancellor’s announcement of a stamp duty holiday on property sales up to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland.
Wednesday’s summer statement prompted a flurry of activity from buyers and sellers keen to make the most of the tax break.
The Rightmove website said it had had its busiest ever day on Wednesday, while rival Zoopla reported a 29% increase in visits compared with the average for the previous 28 days.
Winkworth estate agents reported record traffic to its website. Its chief executive, Dominic Agace, said he expected a major increase in registrations over the next few days.
“Our offices are reporting a significant uplift in interest, in addition to the high levels of activity we have seen since restrictions were eased, from first-time buyers, movers and investors,” he said. “This is the impetus many people have needed to make the move they need for the next stage of their lives.”
At the upmarket estate agency Mr and Mrs Clarke, its founder, Paul Clarke, said phones were “ringing off the hook from vendors at all levels of the market” wanting to go ahead with sales. “A few of them we were speaking to previously but we’ve also had a multitude of new leads – the government’s announcement yesterday has fuelled their fire and it’s all systems go,” he said.
Adam Horton, of Hortons estate agents in the east Midlands, said his company had seen a 25% increase in leads overnight. “Most of these are booking in for weekend viewings. However, we’ve had properties that had valuations over the past couple of months suddenly decide to come to the market and they were all otherwise planning to hold off,” he said.
In north London, Jeremy Leaf said his agency’s two branches had booked in “considerably more” valuations in the 24 hours since the statement than usual. “It’s early days but we’ve noticed more enquiries from buy-to-let investors after benefiting perhaps more than they expected following the financial hammering they’ve received over the past few years,” he said.
One of the country’s biggest mortgage lenders, Nationwide, said thousands of people had used its mortgage calculators in the hours after the announcement. Traffic to its affordability calculator, which provides borrowers with an idea of how much they can spend based on detailed questions about their circumstances, was up by 61% week on week.
Rightmove said its website received 8.5m visits, the highest in the 20 years since it launched. The number of people phoning and emailing estate agents via the site also hit a new record and was up 93% on the same day in 2019.