Coronavirus: short-lived rebound in demand from house hunters

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PA Media

Demand from property hunters rebounded as restrictions on the area were lifted in England – but the trend could be short-lived, according to analysis.

Buyers’ demand increased 88% during the week, real estate agents were told they could resume their visits and that people could move again, said real estate portal Zoopla.

However, actual sales remained weak and analysis suggests that demand may fall further.

Difficult job prospects could affect people’s ability to move.

For those who still have money to move, Zoopla echoed others by suggesting that residents may have spent locks to rethink what they wanted from their home.

  • Where can I afford to rent or buy?
  • Extension of mortgage leave for an additional three months

Another real estate portal, Rightmove, reported a return to pre-crisis shipping levels and requests from people looking to buy or rent a home when restrictions were lifted in England on May 13.

Now, Zoopla’s UK house price index said the rebound in demand went beyond the level seen in early March.

Portsmouth, Southampton, Oxford, Liverpool and Manchester have all seen demand increase.

Different markets

This trend was much more moderate where restrictions persisted – in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – as well as in London, where the market had already been relatively slow.

The analysis found that the rebound would be temporary, after those who stayed at home and were planning to move came up against the reality of less stable job prospects.

“Many households are likely to have reassessed what they want from their home. This may well explain the magnitude of the demand to return to the market, “said Richard Donnell, director of research at Zoopla.

He said the economic uncertainty is growing and that it will ultimately lead to greater caution among buyers and sellers.

A small survey, as part of the research, found that 41% of those surveyed had halted their move plans due to uncertainty, loss of income or future prospects for their finances.

The foreclosure had prevented thousands of people from suspending home sales.

UK residential property sales in April hit their lowest monthly level since comparable listings began in 2005, with 38,060 transactions during the month, according to preliminary figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

This was less than half the level seen in the same month of the previous year.

Great uncertainty remains as to the level of recovery in sales as well as prices.

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