Coronavirus: Property sales worth £82bn 'on hold' amid lockdown

image source, PA Media
image captionSales are at levels normally seen at Christmas

Some 373,000 property sales are on hold owing to the coronavirus lockdown, analysis of the housing market in UK cities suggests.

The value of held sales totals a collective £82bn, researchers at property portal Zoopla have estimated.

Agreed sales were running at a tenth of the normal level for the time of year, and were akin to the activity seen in late December, they said.

Spring is usually a busy time for the housing and mortgage markets.

It is known in the trade as the "spring bounce". However, the stay-at-home message from the government has meant that people are only moving to new homes in rare circumstances, such as entering a vacant property.

Government advice is for sellers and buyers to come to an amicable arrangement over delaying a moving date.

Zoopla researchers said the rate of sales falling through peaked on 23 March - the day the UK lockdown began.

It added that demand for housing was down 60% on levels recorded at the start of March. However, the picture varied across UK cities, with Cardiff recording an 80% drop in demand from buyers, and Newcastle a 48% fall.

image source, Reuters
image captionThe housing market could take some time to recover

Zoopla said people had been browsing for homes less on the internet, but this had recovered slightly in the last couple of weeks, perhaps in response to the fact people are living and working from home and yearning for more room on the domestic front.

"Some may feel the urge to move and find more space or consider the potential for remote working," said Richard Donnell, director of research and insight at Zoopla.

"This could boost activity in the second half of 2020, but this all depends upon how much the economy is impacted over the rest of the year and the impact on levels of unemployment."

Overall, Zoopla expects the number of completed sales across the UK this year to be around half that seen in 2019.

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