The U.K. housing market saw a surge in activity last month as Londoners sought to flee the city after lockdown and a tax break encouraged buyers.
More than 37 billion pounds ($50 billion) of properties came on sale in July, the highest since March 2008, property websiteRightmove said Monday.
Prices hit unseasonal record highs in seven regions, but a drop in London pulled down the national average to a 0.2% decline.
The prospect of long-term remote working andfresh fears of virus resurgence have led people to move out to countryside areas like Devon and Cornwall, both of which saw record-high sales. The suspension of the stamp duty tax on home sales is also boosting activity following the slump during the coronavirus lockdown.
The stampede out of cities could get even stronger in the coming months as almosttwo-thirds of British businesses expect all or some of their employees to work remotely for the next year.
“There’s an added layer of additional demand due to people’s changed housing priorities after the experience of lockdown,” said Rightmove director Miles Shipside. “This is also keeping up the momentum of the unexpected mini boom, which is now going longer and faster.”
However, the good times for the market may not last long with the economy now in recession and unemployment expected to rise. Many British real estate agents expect demand for new houses to fall beyond the next three months, according to theRoyal Institution of Chartered Surveyors last week.
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