Fears surrounding Covid-19’s effect on the property market have noticeably eased since the relaxation of the country’s pandemic lockdown was announced last week, new research has found.
2020 has been a roller coaster of a year. January enjoyed a positive post-election boom with UK house prices rising at the highest rate on record. Then late February/early March uncertainty returned to the fragile UK property market as the imminent arrival of a killer Coronavirus threatened, knocking investor confidence. Then on Friday 20th March, the whole of the UK went into mandatory lockdown to fight off the deadly virus. This effectively stalled the property market, which had only just recovered from three years of Brexit delays.
Eight weeks later on 13 May, the housing market was finally given the green light to re-open. However, this easing of restrictions certainly didn’t mark the return of ‘business as usual’ for the property sector. Instead, it marked the beginning of a ‘new normal’ with socially distanced valuations, viewings and house moves becoming the order of the day.
However, although very limited, the relaxation of lockdown restrictions has been enough to sow the seeds of change for the property market, restoring much-needed confidence, the new Homeowner Sentiment Survey from GetAgent.co.uk has revealed.
Despite fluctuations in the level of concern, the plans of those looking to sell have remained consistent throughout the lockdown period. Over the past three surveys, the percentage of people still planning to market their property in the next 12 months has remained around 80 per cent (this month 79 per cent). This perhaps reflects the fact that moving is often a necessity led by important transitions in people’s lives.
However, despite their desire to move, sellers were still worried about how coronavirus would impact their plans to move but now that sentiment has changed. In GetAgent’s survey conducted two weeks ago, 42 per cent of home sellers said they were extremely concerned about the impact of the Coronavirus on their property sale, but now this fear has dropped to just 33 per cent two weeks later.
Returning seller confidence has also been mirrored by a return of buyer confidence with the median number of web views a listing receives in the first three days of being on the market spiking above and beyond levels seen prior to the lockdown; hitting a high of 272 per listing on 19 April. There has also been a steady increase in Google searches for both key buyer and seller words, the research found.
The introduction of new government guidance allowing estate agents to carry out physical viewings has certainly encouraged a new spurt of confidence among home buyers. Two weeks ago, the majority of GetAgent’s survey respondents said that they would not consider making an offer on a property they liked. Now, the picture is very different. Only 17 per cent said they definitely would not put in an offer, while 16 per cent of potential home buyers said with 100 per cent certainty they would put an offer in on a property they liked.
This continued interest of sellers and buyers in the market, albeit tempered with caution, remains a positive sign for the recovery of housing market recovery. Furthermore, 96 per cent of property agents now expect some form of progress to be made on sales agreed before the lockdown – a significant jump from the 75 per cent of agents who said the same in last month’s survey.
Despite this increasing market confidence, the ongoing impact of the lockdown remains clear with new listings only reaching a peak of 2,009 a day in May so far, compared to a high of 8642 in February. However, this is figure is expected to recover as more socially distanced valuations and instructions take place.
Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, commented: “Of course, concerns remain, but as we move closer to a solution it’s reassuring to know that the market remains poised to spring back into action. Judging on the latest update, it may be a month or two yet before we see a full return to normality, if at all, but the industry will continue to pivot with the current landscape and as restrictions are relaxed, this should enable the cogs to start turning once again.
When they do, this pent-up level of buyer demand should ensure that any pandemic related impact on house prices is short-lived.”