Why Are So Many Doncaster Homeowners Selling So Soon After Buying?

The UK property market has seen significant shifts in recent years, particularly during the pandemic.

One of those changes discussed by the Press are the number of properties for sale where the home seller is suffering from ‘buyers regret’. In estate and letting agency online forums, the ‘feeling’ is that there are a lot of properties on the market, where the owner purchased their home during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 yet are now back on the market.

There are 694,281 properties currently for sale in the UK and for 8.2% of them, the owner has only been in their home since the end of the lockdown.

This article will calculate the percentage for Doncaster (as the numbers are much smaller and more interesting to Doncaster people), the reasons behind this trend and its implications for the local housing market.

The Post-Lockdown Buying Frenzy in Doncaster

The pandemic brought unprecedented changes in the British property market. After the first lockdown in spring/early summer 2020, remote working became the norm, and many people re-evaluated their living situation. The desire for more indoor and outdoor space became a priority. This led to a surge in property purchases, particularly in suburban and rural areas. Buyers were eager to escape the confines of inner-city life, seeking more spacious and comfortable homes.

To give you an idea of the numbers, the average number of UK homes sold (including new homes) since 2005 has been 1,169,864 per year (or 292,466 per quarter). Yet, the average quarterly number of UK house sales in the 12 months between Oct 2020 and Sept 2021 was considerably more at 1,553,860 (or 388,465 per quarter).

However, this buying frenzy was driven not just by lifestyle changes but also by favourable economic conditions. Low interest rates and government incentives, such as the stamp duty holiday, made buying a property more attractive than ever. Many people took advantage of these conditions, leading to a boom in property sales.

So, how often do people move home?

Traditionally, homeowners in the UK tend to stay in their properties for a significant length of time. There are 17,693,200 owner-occupied homes in the UK, and in 2023, a total of 1,023,500 (1.02 million) homes were sold.

This 1.02 million figure includes 231,000 new homes, leaving 790,500 sales of existing (second-hand) homes. This is significant because it means that only 4.48% of existing owner-occupiers moved home in 2023, implying that, on average, existing homeowners move every 22 years and 17 weeks.

With this information, one would expect the number of homeowners looking to move so soon after buying their home to be relatively small. Therefore, we decided to analyse the properties for sale in Doncaster and see if the statistics match the anecdotal suggestions.

There are 2,155 properties currently for sale in the Doncaster area.

Out of these, 184 properties were purchased during the pandemic years of 2020/21.

The breakdown of these properties is as follows:

  • Detached Doncaster houses: 54
  • Semi-detached Doncaster houses: 53
  • Terraced Doncaster houses: 41
  • Doncaster Apartments: 4
  • Doncaster Bungalows: 32

This raises the question:

Why are 8.2% of UK (or 8.5% of Doncaster) homeowners looking to sell so soon after buying?

Several factors could be contributing to this trend:

  1. Overestimating the Appeal of Suburban/Rural Living: During the pandemic, moving to a more suburban/rural setting like Doncaster might have seemed idyllic. However, the reality of suburban/rural living – such as longer commutes, fewer amenities, and a different pace of life – might not have lived up to expectations for some homeowners. As a result, they are now looking to move again.
  2. Changes in Work Arrangements: While remote working was widely adopted during the pandemic, many companies are now calling employees back to the office, at least part-time. This shift can make living in more remote areas less practical, prompting homeowners to relocate closer to their workplaces.
  1. Economic Pressures: The financial landscape has also changed since the height of the pandemic. Rising interest rates will make homeownership less affordable for some people, leading them to sell their properties sooner than planned.
  2. Market Opportunities: The current property market might allow Doncaster homeowners to make a profit. With Doncaster property values having increased over the past few years, some owners might be looking to capitalise on this and sell their homes at a higher price.

Implications for the Doncaster Property Market

This higher-than-normal number of properties selling so soon after moving in will undoubtedly increase the number of homes for sale.

The average number of properties for sale in the UK in May 2017 was 568,845; in May 2018, it was 660,019; and in May 2019, it was 667,532 (an overall average of 632,132 for three years combined). In May 2024, it was 694,281 (as mentioned in the introduction).