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Wales and Cornwall are most popular UK holiday home locations

Wales is the top holiday home location in the UK for 2020/21, research from holiday home insurance company Schofields Ltd has revealed.

Some 15.35% of UK holiday homes are located in the UK, followed by Cornwall (12.82%), Scotland (9.30%), Devon (8.39%) and North Yorkshire (8.13%).

Renewed holiday home contracts were also compared to new contracts taken out between January and June 2020, to calculate the top up and coming locations.

County Durham came top of this list, with a 36% increase in the number of contracts, followed by Wiltshire (36%), East Yorkshire (35%), Cumbria (35%), and Suffolk (28%).

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Phil Schofield, head of inbound marketing, said: “Getting away from home safely once restrictions have been lifted is something that’s on everyone’s minds.

“Holiday homes and holiday cottages are top of people’s lists due to their privacy and ease.

“Data suggests that people in the UK take breaks of 2-3 days more frequently than any other length of holiday, so being able to make a short journey with less stress to a holiday cottage or holiday home is really important.

“The top locations for holiday homes in 2020 aren’t a surprise to us, but the up and coming locations are interesting.

“It seems that people are wanting to find destinations that are off the usual beaten track in the UK and won’t be quite so crowded as the hotspots.

“Hopefully our data will help tourists choose destinations for short breaks in the UK where they can easily find holiday cottage accommodation but will have plenty to see and do.”


Source: Property Wire

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RICS: New buyers looking for green spaces as Scottish property market prepares to open

Following the reopening of the housing market in England May 13, the May 2020 RICS Residential Market Survey unsurprisingly saw a slight improvement in the outlook for sales over the coming twelve months across the UK as a whole.

As the housing market in England started to get going, the UK headline net balance for new buyer enquiries moved from a record low of -94% in April, to post a reading of -5% in May.

Activity metrics though did not see meaningful changes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, where restrictions on estate agents were not removed in May.

In Scotland, the indicator for new buyer enquiries remained close to a record low of -81% and the indicator for newly agreed sales was at similarly low levels of -84%.

However, Scottish respondents were less pessimistic regarding the outlook, with a net balance of -10% recorded for sales expectations over the next three months, likely to be influenced by an expectation that restrictions on the market will be lifted. And 12-month sales expectations turned positive (moving from -18% to +10%) for the first time since February.

In an extra question included in the May survey, as housing markets either opened or prepared to, contributors were asked for their views and for information on what is coming up when speaking to buyers, regarding potential shifts in the desirability of certain features of properties over the next two years (owing to recent events).

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81% of respondents across the UK felt that there will be an increase in desire for properties with gardens or balconies; 74% predict an increase in demand towards homes located near green spaces; and 68% are of the opinion that properties with greater private and less communal space will become more desirable.

At the other end of the scale, 78% of respondents sense there will be a fall in the appeal of tower blocks and 58% feel properties located in highly urban areas will be less enticing. Interestingly, the majority expect no change in the desirability of homes located near transport hubs.

Hew Edgar, head of UK Government relations and city strategy, said: “As Scotland eyes up the highly anticipated reopening of the housing market, potentially next week, this month’s survey feedback provides valuable insight that can inform the Scottish Government and developers of new housing requirements. It is clear that post-lockdown buyers are beginning to reappraise high-density living and looking for more space.

“Space inside their future homes and outside. What is also clear is that the Scottish workforce is looking to spend more time at home, and this will inevitably increase bills for owner-occupiers, and tenants in both the private and social rented sectors. As such, the Government should look at ways to incentivise the repair, maintenance and improvement of existing properties as a means to ensure the health and wellbeing of individuals working from homes in Scotland, as well as restricting a possible increase in fuel poverty.”

Alex Inglis MRICS of Galbraith Group in the Scottish Borders, added: “Little sales activity has taken place during the lockdown but selling clients are generally still keen to get things under way when the lockdown is eased. Potential buyers are generally still hoping to move. There is particular demand for rural and village / small town properties.”

Looking at some of the other regular indicators in Scotland, the indicator for prices over the last three months moved from a net balance of -20% in April to -14% in May. And near-term price expectations moved from -68% to -60%. Instructions to sell remained firmly in negative territory, with 100% of Scottish respondents saying that the number of new instructions from vendors fell last month.

Commenting on the UK picture, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, commented: “Following the reopening of the housing market in England, pre-Covid sales that were in the pipeline are now largely going through. This is encouraging but it remains to be seen how sustained this improvement will prove. Much will inevitably depend on the macro environment and, in particular, the resilience of the jobs market as the furlough scheme unwinds. For the time being respondents to the survey see the trend in transactions being broadly flat.

“Alongside this, there are already signs that those looking to buy a house are responding to the conditions created by the pandemic by seeking out properties with gardens or balconies and nearer green space. These and other similar features are likely to increasingly command a premium over higher density urban locations according to respondents to the survey.”

Source: Scottish Housing News

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RICS: Enquiries stabilise and desire for green space increases

New buyer enquiries posted a net reading of -5% in May, indicating that the market is stabilising after plummeting the month before, RICS UK Residential Market Survey has found.

Near term sales expectations are broadly neutral, with a net balance of -4%, while 12 month expectations are slightly positive, with a net 10% expecting sales to increase.

In terms of how RICS have perceived house price changes over the past three months, -32% saw them fall, down from -22% in April.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “There is no doubt that there has been some release of pent-up demand as buyers and sellers emerge from enforced confinement, with many realising their present properties are unsuitable and trying where possible to bag a bargain.

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“The reality is that many sellers are reluctant to reduce the price substantially as around four out of five tend to be buyers too. They will only consider price drops if they can secure a similarly good deal on their next property.

“Overall, first-time buyers in particular seem more nervous about employment prospects as the furlough support falls away. We are seeing more demand for smaller family houses where buyers are taking a longer-term view of market prospects.”

Some 81% of respondents feel there will be an increase in desire for properties with gardens or balconies.

At the same time, 74% feel there will be a shift in demand towards homes located near green spaces and 68% are of the opinion that properties with greater private and less communal space will become more desirable.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Buyers are focusing on outside space and parks, which will in turn provide a resurgence in interest in the home counties as buyers feel they can get more bang for their buck the further out of the city centre they are prepared to go. This will also give them more indoors space to work from home in future, and perhaps make a second lockdown easier to deal with.

“Whereas this would be a natural human reaction to the current situation, there will still be those buyers who would rather be close to central London and avoid the commute in, which has always been an issue due to overcrowded trains. This could push up prices of London homes with gardens or other outside space.

“We are seeing some confidence among buyers. With very little stock on the market in the short term at least, transactions are completing.”


Source: Property Wire

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Coronavirus: Housing market rebounds as sales increase by 137%

The property market has bounced back from a freeze over the coronavirus peak thanks to a build-up in demand and homeowners realising the shortcomings of their properties while cooped up during lockdown.

More homes were sold last week than this time last year and buyer demand is 54 per cent stronger than it was before the market was frozen on March 27.

Richard Donnell, director of research at Zoopla, the property portal, said that sales had risen by 137 per cent since the market reopened on May 13.

“The rebound in housing demand is not solely explained by a return of pent-up demand,” he said. “Coronavirus has brought a whole new group of would-be buyers into the housing market. Activity has grown across all pricing levels, but the higher the value of a home, the greater the increase in supply and sales as people look to trade up. New sales in London are lagging as buyers look at commuting and moving to the regions.”

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The data was backed by analysis from TwentyCi, a market statistics company, which reported that 24,341 homes were sold subject to contract last week, compared with 22,880 this time a year ago.

Asking prices are 6 per cent above the level this time last year, according to Zoopla. In the week the market was frozen the average asking price was £245,000; in the week it opened last month it was £280,000, according to TwentyCi. Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that buyers are chipping prices down by 5 to 10 per cent.

Deals agreed have been particularly strong at the top end of the market. Those priced at more than £1 million have doubled in the past week to 664, compared with 494 a year ago. However, the largest number of sales last week — 8,956 properties sold subject to contract, compared with 7,744 this time last year — was for homes valued between £250,000 and £500,000.

Lucian Cook, director of research at Savills, estate agency, says: “That resurgence in sales at the top end tallies with our own numbers, Savills sales rose by 108 per cent last week and were particularly across the home counties where they went up by 148 per cent. This is a rebound far beyond what we expected.”

Mr Donnell sounded a note of caution, however. “The charts are off the scale but I do think this is a one-off surge in demand, a temporary jump,” he said. “No one truly knows what the economic impact of coronavirus is going to be. The housing market is purely an extension of the economy and I am very cautious about the second half of the year.”

One of Britain’s biggest housebuilders has said that sales will be “severely constrained” until the lockdown is lifted. Bellway has reported a 69 per cent drop in its weekly net reservation rate between March 23, when the lockdown started, and the end of last month.

The Centre for Economic and Business Research revised its house price forecast up from a fall of 13 per cent this year to one of 8.7 per cent.

Analysts have said the government’s furlough scheme and mortgage holidays are “softening the blow”. When they end it is feared that the market will be hit by unemployment and affordability concerns, leading homeowners to sell and driving prices down.

By Carol Lewis

Source: The Times

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Britain’s housing market may avoid a nasty crash

There is a general presumption that the reopening of the UK housing market following the pandemic freeze must be negative for house prices. But it is too early to be sure. Lucian Cook, the head of residential research at Savills, warns against jumping to any conclusions until data on transactions is available.

In March, new buyers’ enquiries and new instructions collapsed “like never before”, making it “difficult to get an indication of the impact on prices for a while”. Generally, economic downturns coincide with falling house prices. In recent years, however, house prices have been falling in inflation-adjusted terms. The absence of a run-up in house prices before the virus “should insulate the market from significant house-price falls”, reckons Cook. In the short term, sentiment will be a factor, but “in the long term, it will come back to economic fundamentals”.

The first of those is affordability. With interest rates at 0.1%, the cost of mortgage debt is very low, despite more limited availability. Unemployment, however, could be a more serious problem, bringing some forced sales and making people cautious about moving up the housing ladder. Savills uses the forecasts of Oxford Economics. It predicts a 15% drop in GDP in the second quarter followed by an 8% rebound in the third and slowing growth thereafter. A downside scenario has a further 2.5% drop in the third quarter, but higher subsequent growth. The baseline forecast results in unemployment rising from 4% to 6%, not enough to have a significant lasting impact on the housing market, but the downside scenario has unemployment reaching 10%.

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These factors, together with government action to support jobs and a benevolent approach to arrears by lenders should temper the impact on housing. Nonetheless, the number of transactions will take several years to recover to the pre-pandemic level of 300,000 a quarter, owing to a lack of confidence by both buyers and sellers. Savills’ central expectation is that prices will rise 15% over the next five years, with a 5% decline this year followed by steady increases in subsequent years. Its more pessimistic scenario sees a 10% fall this year, but faster growth thereafter.

Will the southeast keep lagging?

Savills expects a continuation of the recent trend – perhaps interrupted by an uptick in regional unemployment in the short term – of London and the southeast underperforming the Midlands and north, given how extended house prices relative to the national average became, particularly in London. Prime central London prices, however, are 20% below 2014 levels, while prime London properties and those in other regions worth more than £2m are 5% below, having been heavily affected by tax changes and political uncertainty. So these markets “were looking pretty good value” going into the downturn. Savills reports higher unprompted web traffic than before the pandemic, while new buyer registrations, both from British and overseas buyers, have risen strongly.

In a survey of 600 clients, 37% of respondents have become less committed to moving over the next six months, but 27% more inclined to do so. Over 12 and 24 months, that negative balance reverses to +9% and +29% more committed to moving. “Spending much more time at home has made the quirks and idiosyncrasies of home more apparent, which may act as a spur to moving.” Covid-19 has also made rural properties much more appealing, especially for those with school-age children, offering the prospect of a renaissance for those locations. This preference extends to suburban London; people want larger houses with gardens.

This is not necessarily negative for central London or other urban locations. For international buyers, total buy, sell and hold costs are competitive with other major cities worldwide and they will have noted the comparative leniency of the UK’s lockdown. Younger people will still want to live in cities and those now hankering for village and country life may come to miss the vast array of restaurants and entertainment facilities. The cost and convenience of travel will favour city living, especially as roads become more congested and public transport returns to normal. “Further price softening in London will offer a compelling buying opportunity,” says Savills.

Undoubtedly, there will be more working from home. This will increase the space requirement at home, favouring houses over flats and properties with even modest gardens to those without. Demand for second homes will probably increase; the government’s advice to stay away from them in the lockdown was widely ignored. Price expectations in the Savills survey show nearly half expecting no change and half expecting price falls. But buyers are more negative than sellers, so may have to adjust their expectations. Though Cook didn’t give explicit advice to those thinking of moving, the message between-the-lines was “get on with it and don’t expect any bargains”.

By Max King

Source: Money Week

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Broker satisfaction with lenders has increases to 82.7% despite COVID-19.

Broker satisfaction with mortgage lenders increased to 82.7% despite COVID-19 with Halifax being the UK’s highest-rated bank and Metro Bank its the lowest rated, according to the fourth edition of the Mortgage Lender Benchmark.

The six-monthly assessment of the service and propositions offered by lenders found that overall broker satisfaction with the lenders they do business with was up from 81.1% in H2 2019 (December).

Across all case types, satisfaction with product transfers has soared to 86.2%, up from 83.2% in H2 2019. And while banks and specialist lenders have seen the greatest increase in overall satisfaction, building societies remain the highest rated sector, and four of the five highest rated buy to let lenders are now building societies.

Broker satisfaction across lifetime lenders is largely flat, although brokers reported finding it harder to determine the maximum loan amount and product eligibility across this group of lenders.

The ease of determining product eligibility for lifetime lenders fell to 77.7%, down from 82.5% in H2 2019.

Michael Fotis, managing director of Smart Money People said, “Overall brokers are more satisfied with the performance of relationship managers, customer service and the speed offered by lenders in particular.

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“And while broker satisfaction with mortgage lenders has jumped to the highest levels seen since our tracking commenced in December 2018, COVID-19 had an impact on a number of themes.

“Brokers talked more negatively about product range, communication and the clarity of criteria in this edition.”

Halifax remains the UK’s highest rated bank with ease of application and speed remaining key strengths. Godiva Mortgages, Coventry Building Society’s buy to let brand sees its overall satisfaction increase by 11%, and is now the highest rated lender in its category.

more 2 life remains the UK’s highest rated lifetime lender and is some 9% above its nearest competitor. Metro Bank is the UK’s poorest rated bank with underwriting and a lack of flexibility reported by brokers as the biggest pain points.

The NPS of lenders, a measure of loyalty, ranges from +73.1 to -40.0, with the average across all lenders increasing to +30.8.

This research is carried out by Smart Money People.

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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House Prices Fall But Signs Of New Interest

Amid mixed messages about the current state of the housing market, Nationwide has reported a sharp fall in house prices.

Its latest house price index fell by 1.7 per cent in May, the largest monthly fall since February 2009. As a result, the annual rate of house price growth slowed to 1.8 per cent, down from 3.7 per cent in April.

This put the current average price of a house at just under £219,000, £4,000 down on April.

‘Housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus’, commented Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner.

‘Our recent market research survey suggested that around 12 per cent of the population had put off moving as a result of the lockdown. Most viewed the current situation as a temporary pause in the market, with would-be buyers now planning to wait six months on average before looking to enter the market’.

House buyers’ housing preferences may also have been changed by the lockdown, noted Gardner. Around 15 per cent of people surveyed said they were considering moving as a result of life in lockdown, with a third saying they thought differently about their home as result of the Covid-19 outbreak, especially the importance of a garden and the need for more indoor space.

Meanwhile online property companies such as Zoopla have reported a surge in online house searches, with growing demand for rural properties offering additional garden space.

Source: Residential Landlord

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Mixed reactions to Nationwide house price index fall and BoE mortgage lending figures

The mainstream media naturally fell upon the news from Nationwide that property prices took a major hit with the onset of the Covid crisis, and an announcement from the Bank of England yesterday that mortgage lending has plummeted.

Headlines such as ‘House price drop takes economists by surprise.’ ‘House prices see largest monthly fall for 11 years’ were typical, as if somehow the writers thought the market might have been immune to a total lockdown.

In the Twittersphere there were comments aplenty:

“If you really are stupid enough to buy a house this year, make sure you get at least 20% off the asking price, then another 15% off the agreed price”

“Though this may seem a dramatic fall, it is not as steep as many had expected and prices still remain nearly 2% higher than they were this time last year.”

“It’s good news day, unless you’re a BTLetster.”

“RICS surveyors expect a huge fall in prices ahead, although they have been wrong before…”

The cause of all this came from the publication of the Nationwide House Price Index –

“UK house prices fell by 1.7% over the month in May, after taking account of seasonal effects–this is the largest monthly fall since February 2009,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist.

“As a result, the annual rate of house price growth slowed to 1.8%,from 3.7% in April.

“In the opening months of 2020, before the pandemic struck the UK, the housing market had been steadily gathering momentum.

“Activity levels and price growth were edging up thanks to continued robust labour market conditions,low borrowing costs and a more stable political backdrop following the general election.

“But housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus.

“Indeed, data from HMRC showed that residentia lproperty transactions were down 53% in April compared with the same month in 2019.

“Mortgage activity has also declined sharply.

“Nevertheless, our ability to generate the house price index has not been impacted to date, as sample sizes have remained sufficiently large (and representative) to generate robust results.

“Low transaction levels may still make gauging price trends difficult in the coming months–especially for regional indices, which by their nature have lower sample sizes.”

The Nationwide Index added to the downbeat news from the Bank of England that mortgage approvals tumbled to a near 30-year low in April as the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures brought the UK property market to a halt.

According to the Bank, the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase was 15,800 in April, down from March’s figure of 56,100 and some 80% lower than February.

This is the lowest level since the tracking began in 1993, and is about half the number of approvals seen during the lowest point of the 2008/09 financial crisis.

Reacting to the news Ross Counsell, Director at house buyers, Good Move, said:

“These numbers are largely down to the reduction in market activity due to social distancing measures, and is a real tell-tale sign for the future of home buying.

“The bounce back in the housing market is reliant on how the wider economy performs, however, the bigger challenge is how consumer behaviour has changed and how sellers need to adapt to continue to sell their properties.

“For example, they will begin to adjust their expectations on the price they will achieve and may be more inclined to accept a lower offer.

“Buyers are now putting more importance on aspects such as outdoor space which will mean a divide in how properties sell.

“We expect to see house prices bounce back fairly soon, but flats and other similar dwellings may take a much longer time to recover.”

Simon Gammon, Managing Partner, Knight Frank Finance gave his view:

“Mortgage lending fell off a cliff at the onset of the pandemic as surveyors were unable to conduct physical inspections.

“Thankfully, surveyors are now able to return to work safely and are working their way through a backlog of applications built up over the course of the lockdown.

“We expect to see the time it takes for borrowers to get an approval decline steadily in the weeks ahead.

“It’s worth remembering, mortgage markets had been at their most active in five years in February as the Boris bounce took hold.

“We expect a post-lockdown surge in approvals as the backlog is cleared, and those that had wished to move home or remortgage become able to do so.”

Miles Robinson, Head of Mortgages at the online mortgage broker, Trussle, commented:

“It’s certainly not a surprise to see figures out today around tumbling house prices and comparisons to ten years past, it has been a period of time like no other.

“However, we’re starting to see green shoots appearing.

“May has seen a resurgence in interest in the housing market and with lockdown easing, Estate Agents are starting to get back to business with more properties being marketed daily.

“At Trussle, we saw a 48% increase in mortgage customers in May compared to April – this figure includes both first time buyers as well as remortgages.

“It’s positive to see these initial signs of recovery in the housing market..”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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House prices UK: where they will rise in 2020 – and where they will fall

House prices are still rising in parts of the UK, despite the property market having stood still for nearly two months between March and mid-May, when property viewings, mortgages and evaluations were finally allowed to resume.

Despite the grim prognoses by many property experts and financial think tanks, the latest house price Index by Zoopla reveals that many of the country’s regions are continuing to grow, with house prices up significantly from last year.

The most interesting finding in the latest issue of Zoopla’s monthly research is the fact that the growth trend in the north of England and the Midlands appears not to have been disrupted by coronavirus, at least thus far. Nottingham is showing a 4.1 per cent growth year-on-year in April – the highest rate in the UK.

Leicester, Manchester, and Leeds are showing house price increases of between 3.1 and four per cent, which is not surprising given that these cities have had a boost from regeneration projects and attractive buy-to-let developments aimed at students and young professionals in recent years. These cities remain a solid option for buy-to-let investors in particular.

Edinburgh is another city on the city index list that is showing strong house price growth of 2.9 per cent, which again proves that in the longer term, it’s not coronavirus that will determine house prices, but ongoing regional trends. Edinburgh has been experiencing something like a London housing bubble for quite some time, with demand for its period housing stock far outstripping the limited supply. The Scottish capital is unlikely to see a downward house price trend any time soon.

The London property market is showing signs of recovery, with a very modest rate of growth of 1.1 per cent – which is, nonetheless, a substantial improvement on last year’s drop of one per cent. It is likely that the pent-up demand now being released is boosting house prices in London, but home owners who were hoping to sell at a profit might be disappointed.

Finally, the cities that have seen noticeable house price drops in April are Oxford (-0.8 per cent) and Aberdeen (-1.7 per cent). Although they are located on the opposite sides of the UK, these two cities have one thing in common: a reliance on industries (oil and higher education) that have been severely disrupted by Covid-19, which may explain the slowing down of their property markets. If you live in either, we’d hold off selling, at least until there is some degree of a return to normal life.


Source: Real Homes

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Lockdown Easing Releases Burst In Housing Demand

Re-opening of the housing market in England following the coronavirus lockdown, led to a burst of enthusiasm from would–be buyers and a small increase in sales agreed. But, reported online property portal Zoopla, the starting point for renewed activity is a market bumping along at sales levels 90 per cent down on this time last year.

The firm’s latest UK Cities House Price Index found buyer demand across England shooting up by 88 per cent after the market reopened, exceeding pre-lockdown levels. But, said Zoopla, this jump in demand ‘is temporary and expected to moderate in the coming weeks’.

There was less of a bounce in cities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland registered where housing markets remain closed.

Continued Government support for the economy and the availability of higher loan-to-value mortgages will shape the market outlook for the second half of the year, Zoopla concluded.

Although 60 per cent of would-be home movers across Britain said they plan to go ahead with their property plans, 40 per cent have put their plans on hold.

‘After the market was suspended for 15 per cent of the year at one of the busiest times for market activity, a return of pent-up demand was to be expected, especially given the strong start to the year.

‘The scale of the bounce back in demand over the last week (to 17 May) varies across cities depending upon the country in which they are located. Despite a large rise in demand, London’s recovery is lagging behind, alongside cities in countries where the housing market is yet to reopen. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not recorded any major rebound in demand like that seen across English cities. Demand for homes in London has been partly diluted as would-be buyers look to commuter towns outside the capital in response to COVID’.

Zoopla’s latest data shows that demand has rebounded faster in cities along the south coast and in northern England. Portsmouth and Southampton are registering demand some 40 per cent higher than in February this year with strong growth also recorded in Newcastle and Leeds’.

Zoopla estimates there are currently 373,000 pre-lockdown house sales in progress. By reopening the market, the Government has improved the chances of a higher proportion of these stalled transactions completing.

‘That said, latest data suggests a small pick-up in the rate of fall-throughs since 12 May, but at levels well below the average for this time of year’, said Zoopla.

‘We currently expect a significant proportion of agreed sales to continue, but increased uncertainty over the economic outlook will see housing chains tested in the coming weeks’.

The coronavirus lockdown has created an unexpected boost to housing demand, said Zoopla director of research and insight, Richard Donnell.

‘The economic impacts of COVID will grow in the coming months and uncertainty is building. The majority of would-be movers plan to continue their search, encouraged by low mortgage rates and continued Government support for the economy.

‘However, we expect the latest rebound in demand to moderate in the coming weeks as buyers and sellers start to exert greater caution. Further support from the Government can’t be discounted and would help limit the scale of the downside risks’.

Source: Residential Landlord