Millions of you have started home-hunting again since the government eased certain lockdown restrictions in England. We saw our busiest ever day on Wednesday 27th May, surpassing six million visits for the first time, which is up 18% on the same Wednesday in May last year. But what does all this activity mean for you and your own move? Here, we break down some of the key stats and trends to help you understand if now is a good time to buy and sell.
The first thing to note is that the reopening of the market has released lots of pent-up demand, meaning that many people are now pressing ahead with their plans to move.
Specifically, we have seen that:
1) Huge numbers of you are phoning and emailing estate agents through our website. On our busiest day ever, 27th May, we saw an 18% rise in this activity compared with the same day last year
2) The busiest day for time spent on our website was Saturday 23rd May, with over 47 million minutes spent collectively
3) Over a quarter of people (28%) who were not planning a move before lockdown are now entering the market
4) The number of sales being agreed by agents is slowly starting to pick up, but will take time. This figure is 47% down on last year, an improvement on the 90% down when the market paused
5) Coastal areas of Cornwall, Devon and Bournemouth are seeing the biggest jump in buyer interest, plus northern locations such as Warrington, Manchester and Wigan
Our resident property expert Miles Shipside, one of our founding directors and a BBC News regular, explained that the market has seen a late spring boost as a result of certain restrictions being eased.
He said: “Usually we record our busiest days of the year in January and February and almost never when there is warm weather, so the combination of pent-up demand being released, new people entering the market and no half-term holidays during lockdown has led to this late spring boost. The challenge agents are facing is handling this surge in enquiries, having a process to deliver virtual viewings, and setting up socially distanced and safe physical viewings. This means that although numbers of sales agreed have improved from being down 90% to currently being 47% down compared to this time last year, it’s going to take a considerable time for a return to sales agreed levels seen last year and at the start of this year. Areas with beautiful scenery and a potentially quieter life are proving to be popular as home-movers’ priorities start to shift, and outside space becomes more important. There are also those considering a move further out now that they’ve realised they can work out of the office and may be finding they can get a lot more for their money in some of the South West and Northern locations.”
The areas with strongest interest from buyers compared to last year – measured by the number of times things like floorplans, pictures and videos are viewed – include places along the south coast and northern towns and cities.
The biggest changes compared to last year are in the CT postcode area of Canterbury, followed by the TR postcode which makes up around half of the places in Cornwall, and Bournemouth.
Blair Stewart, Consultant Strutt & Parker in South Hams, said:
“The last two weeks have been incredibly busy – it’s crazy. From £300k up to £3m plus, the interest in the South West is off the charts. Much interest has been from London, but we’ve also had interest from Yorkshire and further afield with interested parties even chartering helicopters to make socially distanced viewing possible. The interest has extended from second-hand homes to empty plots; with some buyers looking to build their own house with a view to relocating their business from the city to the South West as many take stock of their work-life balance. Good Wi-Fi and good connectivity is all you need, and for what used to be the bane of the South West, broadband quality is now up there with the best. People are valuing the time they’ve spent with family and their children.
Andrew McKnight, Owner of MAP Estate Agents in Cornwall, said:
“We’ve brought all of our staff back to manage the demand we’ve been seeing over the past two weeks. It’s taking longer for viewings now to make sure we’re following the correct social distancing measures so this is adding to how busy we are. We launched a fixer-upper cottage last week and had 40 viewings and 14 offers on it, with it going for over the asking price this week, and we’ve had multiple offers on other properties as well, which has taken us by surprise. I’ve been speaking to a few people who are considering moving further out of cities now that they can work from home more often, so we’ll have to wait to see if this is a short-term trend or a start of a change in buyer behaviour.”
Anthony Holtom, Director of Hearnes in Ringwood, added:
“Since the market reopened we’ve been incredibly busy, and have actually had a number of properties getting multiple bids and some over the asking price, and some of those properties didn’t have that much interest before lockdown. It will take time for an increase in sales to follow compared to usual levels though, as right now there is a scarcity of new properties coming on to meet the increase in buyers interested in moving quickly. We’ve managed to adapt to the new safety measures quite quickly and it’s also helping that we’re only allowing physical viewings and visits to serious buyers and sellers.”