The average asking price of a UK flat has edged up by just over £2,000 since the start of the pandemic, standing at £277,302 as buyers opted for bigger homes with gardens further from city centres, according to Rightmove.
By comparison, the price of the average detached home jumped by almost £46,000, or 10%, over the same time period to over £500,000.
Prices for flats across the country lifted by just 1%, since before the pandemic last February, as homebuyers competed in the ‘race for space’ following work from orders, which prompted many to reconsider their living conditions.
The average flat has lifted by just £2,129 since the start of the health crisis, while the average detached home has hit £517,180 compared to £471,406 last February.
The cheapest area to get on the property ladder is the North East, with average asking prices for flats at £103,098, while the most expensive area outside London is the South East, where average asking prices for flats are £235,073.
The average asking price for a flat in London is £534,054 – a fall of 2% since before the pandemic in February 2020.
However, the property website says there are “signs that flats are starting to make a comeback”
Its data analysis shows that the number of sales agreed for flats lifted by 14% in June and July this year compared to the same two months last year, and a 24% jump on June and July 2019.
The firm says: “This is likely driven by lockdown restrictions easing, medium to long term working patterns becoming clearer and much better availability of low deposit mortgages.”
By contrast, the corresponding number of sales agreed for detached homes is down by 20% compared to June and July last year, though still up by 7% on June and July 2019.
The report adds: “The lack of available stock and ongoing high demand will continue to underpin prices in this bigger home sector.”
The firm points out that the percentage of flats on its website available for sale – not marked as under offer or sold – has dropped from 77% back in June and July in 2020 “when the market had just started to get going again after its temporary closure”, to 56% across June and July this year.
That fall is steeper for available detached homes on its site, falling from 73% in June and July in 2020 last year to 41% available in June and July this year.
Rightmove director of property data Tim Bannister says: “Navigating a busy market can be daunting for buyers, especially if they’re looking to get onto the property ladder for the first time.
“However the latest data might suggest an opportunity for some first-time buyers, with average asking prices for flats currently up by 1%, which is significantly less than the price increases we’ve seen for other property types.
“In the first few months of the housing markets reopening across Great Britain last year flats were temporarily out of favour as people sought bigger homes with more space further out, but we’re now seeing this trend start to shift back again.
“This means it could be a good time for those first-time buyers who would like to buy a flat to see what’s available before prices start to rise further, as the majority will benefit from being exempt from stamp duty and, although activity is increasing, there’s still less competition among buyers for flats than for houses right now
“The sharp rise in average asking prices for detached homes probably comes as no surprise to those who have been following the rush for room that emerged when the market reopened, and with available stock still limited and strong demand continuing, we’re unlikely to see prices fall for this property type anytime soon.”