THE number of agreed house sales in York during a four-week period this summer soared by 50 per cent compared to the same period last year, latest figures have revealed.

In the four weeks to August 16 this year, there were 446 sales agreed, according to the figures from estate agency Savills.

During the same period in 2019, 298 sales were agreed.

Meanwhile, in Ryedale, the number of sales agreed more than doubled during the four weeks this year compared to the same period last year, from 74 to 157, a rise of 112 per cent.

James Abbott, who heads the residential teams in Yorkshire at Savills, said despite an uncertain economic backdrop recent experiences had encouraged people to reassess their priorities and buyers with the financial security to do so were looking for homes with more space and greater access to the countryside.

“Since the housing market reopened we have seen a surge in the number of sales being agreed. The prime regional and country house markets in particular have been especially busy,” he said. “Many predicted that the immediate shift in priorities seen in April was just a response to lockdown, and would be short-lived, but there now appears longer term commitment from buyers.

“Those with the financial security to be able to move are acting on their changing priorities, their requirement for more space and, in many cases, a reassessment of their work-life balance. The stamp duty holiday is also providing additional impetus, and when combined with the experience of lockdown, is bringing forward purchases that may otherwise have happened in two or more years’ time.

“Yorkshire is a very popular relocation market that combines commutability, good schools and high-quality housing stock. But numbers of agreed sales have also been substantially boosted by activity in surrounding villages, with particularly strong demand from those who want the benefit of countryside living within striking distance of a bigger, well-serviced town or city. These drivers have supported demand in locations such as Harrogate, Scarborough and York. Kirklees, Rotherham and Barnsley meanwhile are relatively lower cost alternatives, providing more affordable family housing for those with lower budgets.

A recent survey of Savills own clients carried out in mid-August also found that buyers’ determination to avoid compromise on lifestyle factors has intensified over the summer. Some 62 per cent of respondents said that the amount of garden or outside space had become more important, up from 49 per cent in April. Home working also looks set to become a long term phenomenon, with 56 per cent saying they are now more inclined to work from home more regularly.

James said levels of activity continue to be strong – but aligning buyers’ and sellers’ price expectations is key to maintaining momentum.

“Although we have seen some level of competitive bidding, buyers are keeping their feet firmly on the ground when it comes to what they’re willing to pay,” he said. “The uncertain economic backdrop and the finishing of the furlough scheme at the end of October means short term price expectations remain cautious. Keeping buyer and seller expectations on pricing aligned will be key to maintaining the summer momentum through the autumn and beyond.”