With an estimated £82 billion of property transactions on hold due to coronavirus, the Government's announcement in the middle of last month that operations could resume, with the appropriate measures in place, was welcome news to many.
The immediate effect of the reopening of the property market could be seen clearly on the property portals – with a distinct spike in searches for properties the day after restrictions were lifted. Rightmove recorded over 5 million visits on 13th May and reported that sales demand doubled from Tuesday (when restrictions were still in place) to Wednesday.
The spike in property searches can be attributed to the many people who have had to put their property search on hold due to coronavirus and are now looking to move quickly in order to avoid their own chain collapsing, or just to take advantage of current circumstances.
A shift in attitude is also noticeable in terms of the types of mortgage which are being searched for – with a move away from remortgage loans to purchase mortgages. Mortgage technology firm Twenty7Tec reported a 27% week-on-week increase on 17th May for the volume of searches being completed.
“We are starting to see significant volumes return to the market – with searches for purchase mortgages in particular rapidly gaining pace. Searches for purchases are now at 44 per cent of pre-lockdown highs, up from lows of 15.6 per cent in mid-April” explains James Tucker, chief executive of Twenty7Tec.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum, with the existing desire to move now being supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings.
“Some may be unable or unwilling to move now, but those who are ready to take the plunge have jumped immediately into action.
“Unique enquiries on property for sale doubled from the day before, though we expect consistent momentum to rebuild over several months rather than weeks.
“With no new seller asking price data it’s too early to comment on price movements, though high demand is needed to support a stable market.
“If there are attractive lower deposit mortgages available it would help sustain the recovery in activity. The industry has been caught by surprise, as we were all expecting the housing market to stay closed until at least June.”