Property website Rightmove has recorded its busiest ever day as Britain prepares to emerge from lockdown.
Rightmove said it recorded more than 8.5 million visits on February 17, just after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the country's path to normality after the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing the record set on July 8, 2020, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak first announced a stamp duty holiday.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove property expert said: “Despite all of the uncertainty right now, there are clear signs from buyers that they want to move home in the UK this year.
"Our traffic levels are on a par with the mini-boom from last summer, and July’s busiest ever day last year has been replaced by a lockdown day in February.
"Now we have some clarity on what the roadmap out of lockdown could look like, we expect to see more people putting their home on the market.
"This should help open up more choice in the market to satisfy the strong buyer demand we’re seeing."
Rightmove said the number of prospective buyers contacting agents in February so far is up by 22 per cent on February 2020, which it says is a sign that many are planning a move regardless of the stamp duty holiday, and the number of renters contacting agents is up by 39 per cent.
Renewed home for stamp duty holiday extension
There was renewed hope this week that the stamp duty holiday may be extended in Mr Sunak's Budget next week.
Mr Sunak announced a 'stamp duty holiday' last July, removing the tax from all property purchases of £500,000 or less completed before March 31, 2021.
But, with the deadline looming, the chancellor has faced pressure to extend it, amid concerns it would create a “cliff-edge”, jeopardising hundreds of thousands of sales that may not be completed in time.
Mr Bannister said: "People will be eager to hear what the Chancellor decides to do to stamp duty in the budget next week and there are clearly a number of people who are worried about missing the current deadline, but our research shows there are also a large group who do not see this as a factor in deciding to move this year.”