Further signs of greater activity in the housing market have come from Knight Frank.
The company reports that the volume of online enquiries has picked up significantly in recent days as prospective buyers, including buy-to-let landlords, start to make fresh property investment plans following the government's decision to ease lockdown on the housing sector last week.
In the week ending 17 May, Knight Frank says the number of enquiries from the internet and social media was the highest it has been in a year and 8% above the previous peak in early February.
The data covers listings from portals such as Rightmove and OnTheMarket, all social media channels, emails sent via the Knight Frank website and enquiries made via its chat function. It does not include any contact with individual Knight Frank offices.
“This shows what happens when you temporarily suppress pent-up demand that had been building for years,“ said Andrew Groocock, regional head of sales for Knight Frank’s City and East region. “It’s early days but the ‘Boris Bounce’ may well be followed by a ‘lockdown lift-off’.”
Despite the recent upturn in enquiries, Knight Frank forecasts there will be 526,000 lost sales in 2020 as the economic effects of the pandemic play out.
Fewer than half of those sales are forecast to return in 2021, with prices across UK markets expected to fall by 7% this year, according to Knight Frank’s revised forecast.
Data for last week also shows the number of new prospective buyers registering with Knight Frank was at the highest level in nine weeks.
The number registering was 39% below the five-year average in London, which compares to a fall of 77% in the first week of lockdown.
In markets outside the capital, the figure was down 58%, compared to a drop of 84% in the first week of lockdown.
The bounce in the web traffic data suggests demand will continue to build in the short-term as pent-up demand is released.
“Last week saw the first flicker of what we believe will be a strong surge in activity,” said Groocock. “In these early days it has become clear that the market will spring back to life more forcefully than most people would have imagined only a few weeks ago.”
The number of web views for rental properties has also increased in recent weeks.
“The lettings market can turn on a sixpence,” said David Mumby, head of central London lettings at Knight Frank.
“It is the most nimble area of the UK housing market and we trade by the day with a product that can come on or off the market.
“Small variations in currency or tax policy can produce sudden changes in demand and the infrastructure is now in place that means we can move people quickly.”