The most competitive property markets where bidding wars are pushing up prices

Linda J. Dodson

The mini-boom in the property market has sparked frenzied competitive bidding in Scottish and Northern hotspots.

In some places, 66pc of sales agreed in August were subject to bids from at least three buyers, according to Hamptons International estate agents. In others, agents have reported homes selling for 40pc over their asking price.

Buyers are moving from city centres to greener neighbourhoods, suburbs and towns that were previously considered too far to commute from regularly. And there is also a movement from south to north as buyers chase value.

Using exclusive data from Hamptons, we’ve mapped where the most heated bidding wars are taking place.

Scotland

Scotland is the heartland of Britain’s bidding wars. Here, 44pc of sales agreed in August were subject to offers from three or more buyers, the highest rate in the UK. It is home to four of the UK’s top 10 hotspots: South Ayrshire, Stirling, Glasgow and Fife.

Cameron Ewer, of Savills estate agents, said that in Glasgow’s West End neighbourhood, properties are selling for as much as 40pc over their home report valuations. In Scotland, lenders will not give buyers mortgages worth more than the home report value, meaning purchasers have to foot the difference in cash.

Before the pandemic, the Scottish market was soaring. Now, buyers’ changed priorities are skewing prices; “a decent garden in West End is worth £100,000 at the moment,” said Mr Ewer.

Londoners are behind the surge in the city’s outskirts, said Mr Ewer, who estimated the number of buyers from the capital looking in the countryside around Glasgow has jumped by 40pc since the pandemic began.

Scots are also moving out of town. In South Ayrshire, south-west of Glasgow, Bob Cherry, of Galbraith estate agents, said the rise of working from home means Glasgow workers are “suddenly buying in Ayr”.

They are looking here for value for money. “Before lockdown, prices were not much higher than they were in 2007,” said Mr Cherry. Now, the increased demand has boosted them by as much as 10pc since before the pandemic, he said.

It is the same story in Stirling. Tony Griffith of Allen & Harris estate agents, said a bungalow there went for nearly £50,000 over its £200,000 valuation after 42 viewings in a single week.

Previously, those moving were primarily retirees, said Mr Griffiths. “Now it is families and younger couples. It’s the lifestyle change, working from home has given people freedom on where they settle,” said Mr Griffiths.

Yorkshire & the Humber

In Yorkshire & the Humber, 42pc of sales in August were subject to bidding from at least three buyers. In Sheffield, 64pc of sales were subject to multiple bids, the second highest share in the country.

Jo Upson, of Hunters estate agents, said: “It has been crazy. Homes are selling in record time, within days of being listed, and we are selling at 110pc and 120pc of asking prices.”

This has created a similar problem to Scotland. “The issue is that surveyors and mortgage providers say it’s not worth that,” added Ms Upson. “They say maybe you offered £200,000, but we’ll only lend you £190,000.” 

Before the pandemic, first-time buyers made up 30pc to 40pc of the market in north Sheffield, said Ms Upson. Recently, lenders have withdrawn low deposit mortgages en masse, cutting out many entry-level purchasers. Ms Upson estimated that their share has halved.

Instead of buying, these would-be purchasers have to keep renting. Combined with a post-lockdown wave of tenants looking for more room, this trend has turned the rental sector into a “pressure cooker”, said Ms Upson. There are 10 applicants per listing, and rents have jumped by 15pc since May.

Investors have filled the vacuum left by first-time buyers unable to get lending. Investors now make up 30pc of Sheffield’s market, which offers 10pc yields; in neighbouring Rotherham, where homes are cheaper, the share of landlords is 50pc, said Ms Upson.

Here, 57pc of properties sold had bidding wars. Noel Dickinson of Reeds Rains, an estate agent, said homes are selling for up to 16pc over asking price.

The North West

The most competitive market in the UK is in Trafford, Greater Manchester, where two-thirds of all sales in August had at least three buyers. Burnley in Lancashire also made the list. 

In the North West, 32pc of sales in August were subject to bidding wars, compared to a national average of 30pc. 

Anthony Jevons, of Jackson-Stops estate agents, said one property in Trafford listed at £850,000 sold for nearly £1m, after receiving 30 bids.

The rise of working from home means new interest is coming from the capital. Buyer inquiries from the south of England have more than doubled since before the pandemic, said Mr Jevons, with many planning to commute once a week. 

Manchester commuters are also among the buyers, drawn by the good schools and the appeal of the Cheshire countryside, he added.

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