11 June, 2020
On the 12th of May, Public Health England issued revised Regulations to allow activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property to resume, bringing to an end an almost two-month freeze in property sales transactions.
Ahead of the lockdown, the property market was enjoying a resurgence after the General Election, with both demand and confidence building. Up until mid March, data from Rightmove suggested the housing market was performing well, with asking prices reaching an all-time high and agreed sales achieving the best volume since 2016. But, as lockdown measures are eased, will the market confidence and sentiment from the first quarter 2020 resume?
The initial data is certainly positive and we do appear to be experiencing the much anticipated early ‘bounce’ in activity as over 370,000 of sales (worth £82 billion) that were suspended during the virus lockdown are progressed towards completion and pent up buyer demand is released. Since restrictions were lifted, the data shows a healthy level of early activity, with a 111% increase in sales viewings booked last week (Property Market Insights Report, Coadjute). Also, a recent Dataloft survey supports this positive momentum by showing that the significant majority of vendors who were considering selling their home before lockdown still plan to do so.
One possible barrier to the residential sales market quickly returning to a level of normality is the willingness of vendors to allow people into their homes so early after restrictions are eased. However, the Dataloft survey has identified that, so long as social distancing measures are enforced, 83% of vendors who are looking to sell their homes as soon as possible, say that they are either very or fairly comfortable with physical viewings taking place. Interestingly, despite the popularity of on-line and video viewings during the lockdown, only 8% of vendors are insisting on digital viewings only.
There is a long way to go yet before we get some real clarity into what a post virus property market looks like, but early data suggests that buyers and sellers are certainly willing to re-engage.