The UK’s housing market has witnessed a “mini-boom” over the past few weeks, according to figures published by property website Rightmove.

The site reports that the number of agreed sales soared in July, with their value reaching a total of £37 billion.

One reason for the increase in activity was the government’s suspension of stamp duty, designed to give the market a boost following the coronavirus lockdown.

Rightmove’s analysis also points to a longer-term shift in buying habits as a result of the pandemic. People’s realisation that they can work effectively from home, coupled with fears of a second surge of Covid-19, have prompted record sales in counties such as Devon and Cornwall.

Miles Shipside, a director at Rightmove, suggested levels of interest in moving away from cities could rise further with almost two-thirds of British businesses predicting that all or some of their employees will be working remotely for the next year.

“There’s an added layer of additional demand due to people’s changed housing priorities after the experience of lockdown,” he told Bloomberg News. “This is also keeping up the momentum of the unexpected mini-boom, which is now going longer and faster.”

Estate agents in northern Scotland, meanwhile, say a sharp surge in the local housing market is being fuelled in particular by buyers from southern England.

Speaking to Aberdeen’s Press and Journal newspaper, Ken McEwan, chief executive of McEwan Fraser Legal, said his firm was receiving far more inquiries than it was before the pandemic hit.

“Before lockdown we were getting 300-400 calls a day, but in the last couple of weeks it’s gone up to 1,500. People want to get rid of their mortgages and start afresh. They are getting good money for their houses in the south of England and paying cash up here. They know the recession is coming and want to be mortgage-free.

“People are moving up here in their droves, and that’s just the ones I know about. Many are over 50 and looking for a better quality of life and they get so much more for their buck up here – they can’t believe what they get for their money.”

However, he warned that the current situation could not last. “There is going to be a serious correction in the property market. People are acting irrationally at the moment where they are buying houses way above the home report value and that is going to come crashing down on them.”