Rightmove reports busiest day of the year

Rightmove reports the busiest day of the year, with millions looking into moving. But what does that mean for the housing market since lockdown was eased?

Since the lockdown started in March, the housing market was placed on hold.  Sales and purchases that were in progress were paused, viewings could not take place and estate agents were closed.  Since the easing of restrictions in May, we are starting to see the first green shoots of the housing market coming back to life.  But will the bounce back be what the property market is hoping for after a bad 2019 caused by Brexit and other political uncertainties? 

The housing market has only been open for less than three weeks, but Rightmove has already reported its busiest day on record on Wednesday May 27. More than six millions visits to its listings were announced, meaning there had been an 18 per cent increase in comparison to the same Wednesday last year. This is in contrast to their busiest periods usually being reported to be in January and February and not in the warmer months of the year.  Furthermore, contact to estate agents from buyers who had seen listings on Rightmove had also risen by 18 per cent since the same day last year.  These statistics suggest an optimism that the property market may not have suffered too badly from the Coronavirus pandemic and a new wave of transactions may be about to happen. 

However, despite this optimism, the number of sales still remain significantly lower than last year. Estate agents are going to find it difficult to handle the vast amount of enquiries whilst also trying to deliver safe physical viewings which comply with the new social distancing measures.  Estate agents in some areas are reportedly extremely busy and have experienced that some properties are getting multiple bids, some of which were over the asking price.  They have reported being surprised by the way buyers jumped immediately into action when the lockdown measures were released as they thought that it may take longer for the market to improve. 

Canterbury and Kent have been considered as some of the rising hotspots. This may be due to many households reconsidering their work life balance and becoming accustomed to working from home without commuting. Many will now be questioning how close they need to be to large cities in order to work.  Devon and Cornwall have also become attractive places and local agents stated that more Londoners are now interested in relocating their businesses and changing their lifestyle completely.

As travel restrictions will remain prominent for quite some time, second-home buyers are now setting their sights on seaside towns.  Buyers seem to want a quieter lifestyle with more scenic areas to live in, which is likely to be triggered by people’s priorities starting to shift. Outside space has become more important. As well as that, it has been considered that a move further out means they can still work out of the office and get more for their money in locations within the South West and the North.

With more people potentially working from home for the foreseeable future people are needing greater space at home. An additional room so that there is space for a study or to work looks likely to be one of the top requirements for buyers, followed by access to some sort of outside space. Covid-19 has certainly led to life becoming more home-based and this looks likely to be the new normal for quite some time. Whether this will be a short-term trend or a change in how buyers are going to be behaving, will show within time.

However, some are suggesting that this recent surge may be short-lived, as more people are unfortunately faced with unemployment, meaning they will not be able to move. The level of unemployment and uncertainty with jobs is almost certainly going to have a negative impact on the housing market.

In conclusion, despite there still being some challenges, it may mean that this short term trend in people wanting to move, may become a long term trend. This would be a welcome relief to the housing market which has suffered in the last year.  We as a firm have already started to receive some new enquiries since the easing of the restrictions. However, Partners in our residential conveyancing team, Hatice Mustafa and Jonathan Throp, still believe that any ‘bounce’ is likely to be negatively impacted by the effect of the many redundancies that have unfortunately occurred due to Covid-19. Therefore, we still anticipate it will still take some time for the numbers of transactions to reach pre-Brexit and pre-Covid levels. Nonetheless, we still remain hopeful and are willing to provide the best expertise during these difficult times.