Spike in Housing Market Activity Suggests Return to Normality
With the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak seemingly behind us, the UK economy is slowly beginning to show signs of a gradual return to normality. The housing market has seen a tremendous spike in activity over the past few days, as movers and renters seek to make the most on the easing of lockdown restrictions.
With millions known to have put their relocation plans on hold when the coronavirus crisis took hold, a predicted wave of pent-up demand is now set to be released across the country.
Since the housing market was officially reopened by the UK government buyers and renters are now allowed to both view properties and move for the first time since lockdown was enforced. Surveyors and estate agents are also allowed to resume their normal activities, though strict social distancing rules still apply.
All of which has resulted in a 4% increase in visits to Rightmove’s website year-on-year – an impressive 5.1 million visits being recorded by the online estate agent. Importantly, Rightmove stated that sales enquiries are now back to around 90% normal levels, suggesting it is not far to go before the housing market returns to normality.
Property Listings Also on the Up
While the number of properties being listed on the Rightmove website is still way below normal levels, this week saw the number of new homes listed increase two-fold from last week. The current listing rate is still approximately 90% lower than it would normally be, though these initial signs of forward movement are being welcomed by experts across the sector.
“The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum, with the existing desire to move now being supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said in an interview with the telegraph.
“With no new seller asking price data it is too early to comment on price movements, though high demand is needed to support a stable market. If there are attractive lower deposit mortgages available, it would help sustain the recovery in activity.”
Global head of research at Knight Frank, Liam Bailey, warned that economic growth in general will be sluggish for the year, with the estate agent having predicted average property price decreases of between 5% and 7% by the time the year is out.
However, most of the decline already occurred in the period between March and May, the company reported.
“We can be fairly certain that this year we will see one of the sharpest falls in economic growth in peacetime,” said Mr. Bailey.
“It is challenging to get a handle on what is happening to pricing right now. Published indices tend to be backward looking, and those that have been published since the crisis began have inevitably drawn on limited datapoints.”