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New property sales study reveals towns most and least affected by COVID-19

Specialist mortgage platform Haysto has conducted a property sales study to reveal which UK towns were most and least affected by COVID.

2020 was a record year for property prices, with the average price increasing by more than £16,000 compared to the previous year. By October, mortgage approvals had hit a 13-year high and November saw 124,800 transactions completed, 18,000 more than the five-year average.

Haysto analysed the latest government data to see which towns saw the highest and lowest rate of property purchases in 2020 and which areas saw the biggest increase or decrease compared to 2019.

Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire saw the biggest number of property purchases in 2020 with over 400 per capita. Properties in Huntingdon were, on average, almost £10,000 cheaper compared to the regional average in Cambridgeshire throughout 2020.

Pontefract followed in second place, with over 328 property sales per capita. This surge in property prices could be due to the lower house prices compared to that in 2019. It was revealed overall, sold prices in Pontefract over the last year were down 3%.

Great Yarmouth (320.1), Preston (319.7) and Chichester (319.7) complete the top five towns with the highest number of property purchases per capita in 2020.

At the other end of the scale, Portsmouth had the fewest property sales, with only 50.9 per capita. Despite having a population of nearly a quarter of a million, there were only 1,267 properties sold over the course of the year.

Haysto point also to a recent study that found that the city is England’s second worst town for council home quality, with 38% failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard by the end of March 2020.

Wirral (55.7), Luton (72), Watford (73.7) and Birmingham (75) complete the bottom three towns with the lowest number of property sales per capita in 2020.

Salford saw the biggest change, with a 68.5% decline, the largest year-on-year drop across the rest of the nation. The area saw sales fall from 3,325 in 2019 to only 1,049 in 2020. Basingstoke follows with a 51% drop in sales in 2020 with only 1,273 sales completed last year.

Cardiff is the only Welsh town featured in the top five towns property sales most affected by COVID-19, with a 51.1% drop in sales compared to those in 2019 according to the research.

Although Guildford (29%), Maidstone (29.3%) and Gateshead (30.5%) were deemed least affected from their property sales, they still saw a decline of 30% compared to their 2019 sales, demonstrating the effect COVID-19 has had across the nation.

Paul Coss, co-founder and specialist mortgage broker at Haysto, said: “The impact of COVID-19 changed the property market in 2020 nationwide. I believe when we come out of lockdown and the economy starts to bounce back, this could be a good year to move or get on the property ladder.

“Next month lenders are due to launch new mortgage deals with more flexible lending criteria to encourage more people to move home. It’s much-needed to support those who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 such as furloughed staff, self-employed, or people who’ve seen their credit affected by financial struggles.”