Early signs show English property market bouncing back

Since the government reopened the property market last month, home-hunters have sprung into action and England is getting moving again.

We’ve seen 40,000 new sales agreed since the market resumed on 13th May, with buyers agreeing to pay 97.7% of asking prices on average.

The average asking price of property being listed for sale is up by an average of 1.9% (+£6,266), compared to March, before the housing market was put on hold.

What are the headline figures?

  • There are over 175,000 missing sellers that couldn’t come to market from 24th March to 12th May, but we’re now seeing a record number of owners asking for valuations and the number of daily new listings being added to Rightmove are now up on last year
  • The number of sales agreed has recovered from a 94% drop to latest daily rate of just 3% down on a year ago:
    • 40,000 new sales agreed since market re-opened on 13th May
    • Buyers are agreeing to pay 97.7% of the asking price on average, an improvement from 96.6% for sales completed in February
    • The number of people phoning and emailing estate agents hits a new daily record, 40% above the level seen in early March
  • We recorded our 10 busiest ever days in May and June, with home-movers spending over 955,000 hours collectively on 6th June

Whilst it’s still early days, our statistics covering 95% of the market indicate far more resilience than had been expected.

What do the experts say?

Our property expert Miles Shipside explained that buyers hoping to negotiate hard may find their offer rejected in the current market.

He said: “Following the initial shock of the early reopening of the housing market, England is getting moving again with a boom in traffic on Rightmove.

“There are no signs of panic selling or even a price dip. Some sellers who had agreed a sale before lockdown have been worrying that their buyer may try to re-negotiate with a reduced offer.

“On this evidence buyers may now be trying to exchange quickly, as there are signs of high pent-up demand and upwards price pressure, rather than downwards.

“Lenders may also have been concerned about price instability affecting the risk profile of their low-deposit mortgages, so hopefully this will give them more confidence to increase their range of first-time-buyer products.”

What do the estate agents say?

Andy Shepherd, CEO of Dexters in London, said: “We’re tremendously busy across all of our 70 London offices. Transactions numbers are increasing daily, over the past two weeks we’ve agreed sales on over 250 properties and arranged lettings on over 600, so 85 a day or 10 an hour in the working week. Immediately before lockdown we’d seen the best market for five years.

David Plumtree, Group Chief Executive for Estate Agency at Connells Group, told us: “We’ve experienced brisk levels of activity since the reopening of our branches in England late last month. 

“So far in June we’re seeing more buyers register with us than during the same period last year – leading to increased levels of new instructions and sales agreed so far this month.  Notably there is strong demand from first time buyers despite a shortage of higher loan to value mortgage products.”

Oliver Blake, Managing Director of Your Move and Reeds Rains Estate Agents, said: “Where we live is one of the most important factors in life and the COVID-19 lockdown has forced everyone to assess their choices, and given many the time to consider alternatives.

“As soon as the restrictions on viewing property were lifted in the middle of May we received many more enquiries about properties for sale by our national network of branches than we expected. Having introduced virtual viewings and stringent ‘safe agent’ viewing guidelines, we are prepared for what is proving to be a very busy time.”

Matt Nicol, Managing Director of Nicol & Co in Worcester, added: “Echoing others in the industry, there has been a pent-up demand for the short supply of stock which has led to some good deals tying up. The challenge has been to service everyone and manage their expectations.

“Covid-19 is still a very real threat, and the safety of our staff and clients has had to remain a priority.  We’ve taken to livestreaming all instructions to be our first step in the journey and with great success. We now carry out less physical viewings with very eager clients that then make quick decisions to offer.”

NOTE: The Northern Ireland housing market reopens on Monday (15th June), while restrictions on the Welsh and Scottish property markets remain in place. We’ll bring you more on these markets as soon as we have more information.

To read June’s House Price Index in full, click here.

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