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Housing market activity falls off the coronavirus cliff

There has unsurprisingly been a sharp slowdown across the UK property market over the past few weeks as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis. 

Following a positive start to the year, the market has ground to a virtual halt due to ongoing uncertainty and the government’s strict safe distancing measures. 

The percentage of properties ‘for sale’ in March dropped by 19.3%, while properties ‘sold’ during the period saw a much smaller decline at -4.3%.

The Property Activity Index’s archives also show us that this month’s activity is the slowest on record for March, but the data is heavily affected by suspension of services.

A resilient Yorkshire and Humberside reported the smallest decline with figures for properties ‘sold’ at -9%.

Of the remaining 12 regions the smallest declines in this month’s index were reported by:

New listings ‘For Sale’

  • East Anglia -10.6%

  • North West -12.9%

  • Central England -16.2%

Properties ‘Sold’

  • Central England -10.4%

  • South West -10.0%

  • East Anglia -12.8%

  • North East -16.6%

The largest decline in activity was reported in Wales. Figures for new listings ‘for sale’ fell to -17.6% and properties ‘sold’ at -26.2%. The North East followed suit with new listings at -21.3% and properties ‘sold’ at -16.6%. 

But both regions currently remain buoyant over a three-month rolling period and both have seen an increase in year on year activity.

Stephen Watson, managing director of Agency Express, commented: “March’s data from the Agency Express Property Activity Index, has as expected returned significant declines. This is partly due to the natural slowdown that occurred as COVID-19 virus gained momentum. However, towards the latter end of the month our figures are heavily affected by our suspension of services. 

“So, on this basis is it hard for us to give a true reflection of this month’s activity. Moving forwards, as anticipated, we don’t expect to see any immediate changes or growth and our figures will be heavily impacted by the suspension of services for the fourth coming months.”

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