The UK is still experiencing a pandemic house-buying boom, with two out of three homes being sold subject to contract compared with one in two homes the year before.
But certain areas are attracting far more buyers than others, with Grays in Essex named the strongest performing area, according to October 2021 figures from the property website Rightmove.
More than 80% of properties for sale in the town, which is just a 36-minute train from central London, have been marked on Rightmove’s website as “sold subject to contract”. This is in spite of a recent review that branded the area “the most hideous small town within the British Isles”, according to Essex Live.
Other popular areas include Mangotsfield, near Bristol; Eastleigh in Hampshire; Redditch, near Birmingham, and Yeovil, in Somerset; as well as coastal destinations such as Gosport, Hythe and Bognor Regis, the West Sussex seaside resort.
According to Rightmove, homes priced at a quarter of a million or under are the strongest performing, with 80% of these properties being marked as sold subject to contract.
On the other hand, just 14% of flats for sale at £1m or more are sold subject to contract and just 20% of flats in the £750,000 to £1m price bracket.
Traditionally expensive areas have become more of a sellers’ market; just one in every ten properties in west London’s Chelsea (where the average property price is more than £2m) have been marked as sold subject to contract.
Other strong areas for buyers include Birmingham city centre, Liverpool city centre and London’s Kensington, Stockwell, Victoria and Maida Vale. The lack of demand for inner-city locations reflects the trend of people wanting bigger homes and more outdoor space, inspired by lockdown and working from home.
Property sellers have had “a better chance this year than at any time over the past decade” of finding someone to buy their home, said Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister in a statement.
Bannister compared the demand outstripping supply for property in some of the strongest areas as being like a supermarket with “almost bare” shelves. “New properties coming up for sale haven’t been able to keep pace with buyers who have been snapping them up,” he added.