The firm said more than one in five properties on its books were now chain-free with some regions seeing almost a quarter of properties have no links – this is up from 15 per cent on average at the same point last year.
It added that across the UK, rental demand was 41 per cent higher in February than a year ago – however this has not stopped landlords in London selling up as rents tumble.
“There are signs more homeowners are selling up and moving into rental properties so they are in a stronger buying position when their dream home comes up for sale,” the firm said.
The shift is most marked in London where the proportion of chain-free homes has jumped from 12 per cent this time last year to 21 per cent now.
And there has been corresponding strong growth in rental demand of over 40 per cent in the neighbouring regions of the South East and South West as some people choose to sell up and rent outside of the capital for now.
“There are also some landlords selling up in the capital due to falling rents,” Rightmove said, noting that some areas of the city were seeing double-digit declines in rents, which could prove attractive to people who wanted to try before they buy.
“Those who are selling up may also be taking advantage of securing the best price for their home while the stamp duty holiday is in place as an incentive for their buyers, and others who have chosen to move out of a city may be planning to rent first to make sure country life is definitely for them,” it added.
The East Midlands and West Midlands each have 24 per cent of properties listed as being chain-free with both regions seeing rental demand growing 60 per cent.
Wales and the East of England have also seen rental demand increase by more than 50 per cent.
And the estate agent added that it was the “strongest sellers’ market in a decade” with almost two out of three properties on an agents’ books sold subject to contract.
‘Try before you buy’
Rightmove director of property data Tim Bannister said: “We know that one of the reasons sellers are often hesitant to come to market is because they can’t find somewhere that they want to buy, but with record buyer demand and the stamp duty holiday being an added incentive for prospective buyers there seems to be a group of people who are choosing to sell up now and rent temporarily.
“The flexibility of renting gives people the chance to ‘try before you buy’ in a new area and so those who have chosen to move to the countryside may be selling their house chain-free to then rent and take time to decide if the good life is definitely for them.
“Selling chain-free is perhaps something some owners hadn’t considered as a possibility before now, but with the competitive market and stock shortage we currently have they’re trying to put themselves in a more attractive position when their dream home comes along.
“In the capital there are also some landlords who are selling up now, which could open up an opportunity for some first-time buyers looking for their first home,” he added.