Updated 19th May 2020
We don’t think many people could deny that 2020 has been a tumultuous year. And, the property market has not been spared. At the start of the year there were tentative signs of a resurgence. Confidence had returned in many areas of the property industry, and some of the latest data showed the highest rates of house price growth in over a year. When the lockdown began the property market underwent an effective ‘freeze’, but now the Government has introduced new guidance, allowing home moves in England to start up again.
We’ve been regularly talking to homeowners all over the UK to see how they are feeling in the context of the coronavirus crisis. This time, for our third survey, we spoke to 940 homeowners. 49% were planning to sell, and 43% were currently on the market. The remainder were homeowners who told us they are no longer, or not, planning to sell in the near future.
Here’s what they told us:
Over the past couple of months concern amongst homeowners has understandably been high. Newspapers and pundits have been debating the possibility of drops in house values, and accessibility to affordable mortgage products has been in a state of flux.
In our last survey homeowners rated their average concern at 7.9 out of 10. And, 31% rated their concern at the maximum level of 10/10.
Now, the average concern amongst homeowners is down to 7.5 out of 10. And less than a quarter of homeowners - 22% - now rate their concern at the maximum level.
This sentiment was matched by estate agents. In a separate survey, agents reported that their concern about the impact of coronavirus on the property market had dropped from an average of 8.9 (in March) to 7 out of 10.
Despite fluctuations in the level of concern, those looking to sell have remained consistently optimistic. Over the past three surveys the percentage of those still planning to take their property to market in the next 12 months, has stayed steady at just under 80%. This perhaps reflects the fact that moving house is often a necessity that accompanies important transitions in people’s lives. And, that coronavirus is hopefully a temporary phenomenon.
In our previous surveys, home sellers told us that they had adjusted their expectations in line with the government restrictions on movement which had halted much of the property market. The majority expected that a delay of at least 3 months was likely, with somewhere between 4-6 months being the most common prediction. In our last survey, 12% thought their sale would be delayed by more than 10 months.
Now, less than a quarter of homeowners we talked to expected a delay of 4-6 months. And, the number that expected a delay of more than 10 months is now down to 8%.
The introduction of new government guidance allowing estate agents to give physical viewings, has encouraged a new spurt of confidence among home buyers too.
Two weeks ago the majority of respondents told us that they would not consider making an offer on a property they liked. Now, the picture is very different. Only 17% said they definitely would not put in an offer. And, 16% of potential home buyers said with 10/10 certainty they would put an offer in on a property they liked.
The continued interest of buyers in the market, albeit tempered with caution, remains a positive sign for the next phase of housing market recovery.
How homeowners feel about the way estate agents have handled the coronavirus pandemic remains positive. In our last survey, agents were rated 6.1 out of 10 for their adaptability to the crisis.
Homeowner’s ranking of how well they thought their estate agents had reacted and adapted to the situation has increased to 6.6 out of 10.
This perhaps reflects the positivity surrounding the reopening of the market, and agents’ ability to do more to support home sales again.
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