The busiest property markets of 2020 have been revealed, with small towns taking the top spots as buyers flooded out of cities during the pandemic.
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, had the highest rate of property purchases in England and Wales, followed by Pontefract, West Yorkshire and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
Specialist mortgage platform Haysto analysed Government data to work out the figures, which are based on the number of house purchases per 10,000 people in the area’s population.
Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire was found to be one of the busiest property markets in 2020
Huntingdon, which has a population of around 26,000 people, saw more than than 400 house purchases per 10,000, while Pontefract saw 328 and Great Yarmouth, 320.
Known for being the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, Huntingdon is a commuter town with a direct train link to London. It also tends to offers better value than other areas near Cambridge.
According to Rightmove data, house prices are on average £10,000 cheaper than the regional average in Cambridgeshire.
Pontefract might also have benefited from bargain-seeking house buyers.
Sold prices in the town, which has a population of just over 31,000, were down three per cent year-on-year in 2020 according to Rightmove.
Hot markets: Huntingdon, Pontefract and Great Yarmouth topped Haysto’s list of the locations which saw most property purchases per head of their population last year
Cooling off: Cities such as Portsmouth, Birmingham and Brighton saw less demand for homes, recording fewer purchases relative to the number of people who live in them
This was at a time when house prices have risen by an average of £17,000 across the UK.
Preston is the only city in the top ten of the high purchase rate list, and has a relatively small metropolitan population of less than 99,800.
Other than Doncaster, each of the locations in the top ten has less than 100,000 inhabitants.
Haysto’s research also identified the locations that had the fewest property purchases relative to the size of the population, or the least busy housing markets.
Norfolk’s Great Yarmouth, which was the third-busiest property market according to Haysto
Portsmouth had the fewest with 51 per 10,000 people, as despite having a population of nearly a quarter of a million, there were only 1,267 properties sold over the course of the year.
Wirral (56), Luton (72), Watford (74) and Birmingham (75) completed the bottom five locations with the lowest number of property purchases per 10,000 people in 2020.
This also reflected the trend towards smaller settlements among buyers.
All of the 20 towns and cities with the lowest property purchase rates had a population of at least 100,000, while five were home to more than a quarter of a million.
Buyers have moved further away from cities in the past year, as many worked from home and felt that they would necessarily not return to a daily commute after the pandemic.
Other attributes such as larger floor plates and gardens, which are harder to find and less affordable in urban areas, also climbed higher up buyers’ wish lists.
Commenting on the research, Paul Coss, co-founder and specialist mortgage broker at Haysto said: ‘The impact of Covid-19 changed the property market in 2020 nationwide.
‘I believe when we come out of lockdown and the economy starts to bounce back, this could be a good year to move or get on the property ladder.’