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UK House Price Index – May 2021

By Richard Donnell on 29 June 2021
  • Buyer demand has moderated as stamp duty holiday ends but remains elevated compared to ‘normal’ market conditions
  • ‘Search for space’ among homebuyers, as well as increased numbers of first-time buyers and those making lifestyle changes, will continue to support activity through H2
  • Total stock of homes for sale remains constrained, down 24% in the year to mid-June compared to the average in 2020

UK house prices have increased by an average of £10,246 per property over the past 12 months - the largest rise in value recorded since October 2016.

Annual UK house price inflation at +4.7%

Average house prices rose by 1.1% in the three months to May, taking the annual rate of growth to 4.7%, matching that in February – which was the highest level of growth since the beginning of 2017.

Prices are being supported by elevated levels of demand – despite a recent moderation approaching the end of the initial stamp duty holiday on June 30th.

Average house prices in the UK have risen by more than £10,000 over the last year, taking the average price to £229,300. 

The spread of house price growth across the country continues to widen however, with annual price rises reaching a 10-year high in Wales, Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East.

Meanwhile London is lagging at 2.2% growth, the seventh month that this region has registered the lowest level of growth across the country.

Liverpool (+7.9%) and Manchester (+7.2%) continue to record the highest levels of price growth among the largest UK cities, while Rochdale (+9.9%), Bolton (+8.7%) and Hastings (+8.2%) top the charts in the 65 cities and towns monitored in this index.

These cities are united in having some of the most accessible housing markets in terms of affordability, with the household income needed to buy a property – assuming a 15% deposit and a mortgage at 4.5 x income – at between £25,100 and £35,500, below the UK average of £43,300.

The exception is Hastings, where household income needed to buy is £47,100, although this is at a significant discount to the £71,000 needed to buy down the coast in Brighton.

Homes move up stamp duty bands

Price growth over the last year mean that some 1.8 million properties in England have moved into a higher stamp duty bracket, as shown below.

Some 940,000 additional homes will be subject a level of stamp duty at 5% should they be purchased by a homemover, while an extra 130,000 properties will attract some stamp duty at 10%.

The number of homes in the lower stamp duty bands in England is falling, while the price growth means it is rising for the top bands.

The average additional stamp duty payable on homes that have moved up into the 10% stamp duty band will be around £6,100 after the end of the tapered stamp duty holiday in September, while the additional cost for the average homes that has moved up into the 5% band will be around £725.

Demand levels moderate but remain elevated

Buyer demand levels have been elevated compared to more ‘normal’ market conditions (2017-2019) since the housing market reopened during the first lockdown last year.

This demand was boosted by the introduction of the stamp duty holiday in July last year, and its subsequent extension. Demand has moderated from the unsustainable highs of April, but remains elevated.

This demand is being fuelled by several factors, not least the stamp duty savings still on offer for buyers of homes worth up to £250,000. In addition, there is more activity among first-time buyers who have a wider range of mortgages to choose from, and who will still benefit from stamp duty savings up to £300,000 beyond June or September.

The ‘search for space’ among buyers is still evident, and some homeowners, typically with higher levels of equity, have been prompted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns to change to their lifestyle – and their home.

As the full re-opening of the economy approaches, many officebased workers are also receiving guidance on how companies will operate when offices fully reopen. Where companies are shifting to more flexible working, some workers will now have the certainty to make a move for additional space or to a different location if daily commuting is less of a consideration.

The supply of homes for sale remains constrained, and may limit potential activity in some areas, yet we expect activity will remain buoyant in H2, in line with our forecast for 1.5 million sales this year

Fastest moving market in five years

Time to sell, which measures how quickly homes are sold subject to contract after being listed, fell to 22 days in May, down from 42 days in May 2019.

The seasonal nature of the market means it moves more quickly during April/May in most years, but this still marks the fastest moving market in at least five years.

This signals that the market continued to move apace in May, even when the prospect of the larger stamp duty savings for homemovers (which would require that the sale be completed by June 30th) was off the table – underlining that the ‘reassessment of home’ which is fuelling buyer activity, has further to run.

Zoopla UK House Price Index and 20-city summary - May 2021
Source: Zoopla House Price Index

Market outlook

The stamp duty holiday boosted demand in the housing market, yet buyer demand remains elevated despite the initial holiday ending – signalling that the once-in-a-generation ‘reassessment of home’ has further to run this year.

Demand may ease further as the re-opening of the economy allows people to do more and travel more widely, but at the same time, the confirmation of working practices for office-based workers will lead to more homebuyers being able to push ahead with a move.

The total stock of homes for sale continues to run well below historical norms, and this will underpin pricing.

At the same time, it may also constrain potential activity, especially for buyers looking for family houses. Even so, we forecast that this year will be one of the busiest for the housing market since the global financial crisis - with 1.5 million residential transactions.

Demand continues to outstrip supply
Zoopla research
Prices rising fastest in most affordable regions
Zoopla House Price Index
Rising number of properties in higher stamp duty bands
Rising number of properties in higher stamp duty bands
Zoopla research
UK House Price Index – May 2021
By Richard Donnell
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