Homebuyers are flocking back to city centres as the lockdown-inspired drift to the suburbs and commuter belts starts to ease.

Demand for flats in cities across the UK has increased by 39% since January, with Edinburgh among those experiencing an upsurge, according to the property portal Rightmove.

The Capital and Glasgow are among cities that have experienced a rise in buyer demand in their centres since the start of the year, measured by the number of people contacting estate agents to request more details about properties for sale.

However, the trend here has not been as marked as in many English cities, with larger, family homes in Edinburgh remaining among the strongest performers in the housing market.

Demand for city centre flats rose by 23% in the city from January 1 until the end of April, compared with 28% in Glasgow, according to the survey.

The highest level of demand for city centre flats across the UK was in York which saw a 76% rise, followed by Norwich (62%), Sheffield (57%), Southampton (55%) and Leicester (53%).

The easing of Covid restrictions and the launch of the Government-backed 5% deposit mortgage guarantee scheme are among the drivers of increased demand, Rightmove said.

Its survey of over 1,000 first-time buyers found that almost one in five (17%) intended to use the scheme or were already using it.

The study also showed that while the desire to move to a quieter location has been driving parts of the housing market over the past year, this is not as appealing to first-time buyers.

While more than a quarter (28%) of existing homeowners planning to move in the next 12 months cited a move to the countryside or coast as their motivation, only 10% of first-time buyers were considering doing this.

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