House price bidding wars are rising fastest in Bath

The southwest of England dominates the nation’s property hotspots. Asking prices in Truro, Cornwall, have risen by 14.6 per cent since this time last year to £323,200, while Plymouth and Gloucester have seen rises of 12 per cent or more.

Tom Howard www.thetimes.co.uk

Asking prices for houses in Bath are rising more quickly than in any other city in Britain as would-be buyers battle each other to snap up the few homes to come onto the market.

The average asking price for a home in the largest city in Somerset has jumped by 15 per cent over the past year, Rightmove, the online property portal, said. The average asking price there has risen to £558,000 — almost £75,000 more than the figure sellers were looking for this time a year ago.

The southwest of England dominates the nation’s property hotspots. Asking prices in Truro, Cornwall, have risen by 14.6 per cent since this time last year to £323,200, while Plymouth and Gloucester have seen rises of 12 per cent or more.

The only location outside of the southwest to break into the five fastest-rising cities is Southend-on-Sea in Essex, where asking prices are up 13.4 per cent year-on-year to £343,000.

On average, prices in the ten fastest-rising cities have climbed 12.6 per cent over the past 12 months. That compares with national asking price growth of 9.9 per cent over the same period.

Buyers, Rightmove said, are trying to balance the desire for more space while remaining close to workplaces and city amenities. “In the first stages of the pandemic we saw the popularity of some major cities, like London, temporarily drop as people looked for more space,” Tim Bannister, the website’s director of property data, said.

“However, for other cities, such as Bath or Plymouth, which perhaps have easier access to the coast and countryside, we saw demand really soar when the market reopened in 2020.”

House prices in the UK more generally have been fuelled by the desire of many to move into bigger properties that offer more potential home-office and garden space, sparked by the pandemic. It has been described as a once in a lifetime re-evaluation of how and where we live, and property market analysts expect that the trend will last for a little while yet.

House prices in Britain are at their highest ever, having risen, on average, by more than a fifth since the onset of Covid. While part of that record rise is down to booming demand, estate agents have for months been complaining that they do not have much housing stock left to sell. That is leading to bidding wars between determined buyers, further inflating prices.

The Rightmove data shows that in those cities where prices are rising fastest, there is a pronounced shortage of houses for sale. In the southwest, the number of houses available for sale has fallen by 39 per cent over the past year, Rightmove estimates.

“[At the start of the pandemic], the supply of homes available kept up with some of this surge in demand, steadying asking prices,” said Bannister.

“Now we’re still seeing really high buyer demand for cities like Bath, Plymouth and Truro, but the number of new homes coming onto the market hasn’t been able to keep up with the buyers enquiring.”

Glasgow is the most competitive city in Britain in which to buy a home, measured by the number of enquiries estate agents are receiving for houses.

“We are seeing 50-plus viewers and offers being made within days for every property coming on the market,” John O’Malley, chief executive at Pacitti Jones estate agents in Glasgow, said.