'Phenomenal demand' sees house sales soar in Suffolk and Essex
- Credit: PA
The number of house sales agreed in Suffolk and Essex increased by nearly 30% last year - with lifestyle changes driven by the Covid-19 pandemic encouraging buyers to flock to the region.
Figures complied by estate agents Savills revealed that 19,439 properties were sold, subject to contract, in Suffolk during 2021.
This was a rise of 27.5% when compared to the pre-coronavirus trading conditions of 2019.
In Essex, the rise was even bigger, with 48,265 homes sold in 2021, up 29.0% on 2019.
East Suffolk - which includes popular property hotspots such as Woodbridge, Aldeburgh and Southwold - saw the most sales (6,791) but the largest percentage increase was in Mid Suffolk, with 41.7% more homes sold compared to 2019.
While Colchester (5,471) and Tendring (5,332) saw the most sales in Essex in 2021 - rises of 36.8% and 38.9% respectively on 2019.
The statistics also revealed there were fewer properties coming to the market in both Suffolk and Essex during 2021.
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In Essex, there were 14.2% fewer homes on the market when compared with 2019, and in Suffolk, there were 13.0% fewer properties available.
Savills said this created an imbalance between supply and demand and led to the average house price rising to £395,915 in Essex and to £319,954 in Suffolk.
There were also big rises in the number of £1million plus homes sold in the region, with Essex jumping from 699 in 2019 to 1,431 in 2021, and Suffolk increasing from 154 to 274 over the same time frame.
Katy Stephenson, part of the residential sales team at Savills Suffolk, said: “I think it’s fair to say the level of activity over the last 18 months or so has taken us all by surprise. Every time we thought there might be a lull we were proved wrong. The demand has been phenomenal.
“The lifestyle factors that motivated people to move after the first lockdown – the need for more space both inside and out, the rise in home working and the desire to be close to the beach or surrounded by countryside – continued throughout the year and the market just kept getting busier and busier.
“The traditional coastal hotspots have seen the highest number of transactions, but there has also been a move towards quieter, rural locations – albeit close to larger towns such as Bury St Edmunds or Ipswich which have good connections to London and a range of shops, restaurants and other amenities.
“The real issue has been a lack of properties on the market – there’s simply not been enough to meet people’s needs. This has created fierce competition among buyers and in many cases properties have been selling for considerably more than the guide price within days of becoming available."
Karl Manning, head of residential sales at Savills Essex, said the pandemic has led to potential buyers looking further north in the county.
“The traditional hotspots – well connected villages close to Chelmsford and Brentwood for example that provide a relatively swift commute into London – remained popular, but buyers’ focus also shifted further north to areas that perhaps weren’t previously on their radar," he said.
“Less travel for work has led to a definite uptick in interest for homes in the Braintree district and Colne Valley, as well as a move to villages around Colchester with its excellent schooling, links to the A12 and large collection of period homes proving a particular draw.
"Tendring – and it’s mix of coast and countryside – has also been popular, as has the Dedham Vale with its proximity to Manningtree.”
Looking ahead at the housing market, Mr Manning added: "There is a little uncertainty about how the market will react as we move into the spring and early summer and it will be interesting to see just how that progresses, but for the moment it remains extremely buoyant.
“There is a large pool of highly motivated buyers who are ready, willing and able to move and we are seeing more activity in this early part of the year than we would normally expect.”