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© GetAgent Limited 2022
  1. Blog
  2. The surprising impact of the pandemic on British property companies
Property news
26 January 2022

The surprising impact of the pandemic on British property companies

Sam Edwards

Table of contents

  1. 1. What we discovered
  2. 2. Our methodology
  3. 3. Why property companies were resilient to the pandemic

On the 23rd March 2020, the UK went into its first national lockdown. Now, nearly two years on, businesses are still recovering from the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic. While we all know the hospitality industry was the first to feel the repercussions of lockdown, restaurants and bars weren’t alone in their liquidation. On the 7th October 2021, reported that over 400,000 UK companies disappeared in the first year of the pandemic. As property is our bread and butter here at GetAgent, we sought to find out how badly the industry was affected. What we found was a silver lining.

What we discovered

The number of property companies entering liquidation in the Real Estate Activities Sector fell during the pandemic (Q1 2020 - Q3 2021), totalling at 494. This total is down -18% when compared to the 601 figure from the years preceding (Q2 2018 - Q4 2019).

The silver lining for property professionals has been driven by a fall in the number of companies being forced into liquidation, with compulsory liquidations down -57%.

However, there has been a marginal 2% uplift in the number of property companies making the grim decision to seek voluntary liquidation.

Our methodology

Our research focused on registered compulsory liquidation and registered creditor’s voluntary liquidation within the Real Estate Activities Sector (Section L; Division 68), which includes:

  • The renting and selling of own real estate
  • The renting and operating of own or leased real estate
  • Real estate activities on a fee or contractual basis

What is ‘registered compulsory liquidation’?

When liquidation is forced on a business by the courts.

What is ‘registered creditor’s voluntary liquidation’?

When directors of a business agree with shareholders to place the company in liquidation in order to pay off debt.

Compulsory and Voluntary Liquidations in the Real Estate Activities Sector in Great Britain before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the % change

CategorySectorPre-pandemic equivalent (2018 Q2 to 2019 Q4)Pandemic so far (2020 Q1 to 2021 Q3)Percentage change
Compulsory liquidationsReal Estate Activities20286-57%
Creditors’ voluntary liquidationsReal Estate Activities3994082%
Total estimated liquidationsReal Estate Activities601494-18%

Data sourced from Company Insolvency Statistics: July to September 2021.

Why property companies were resilient to the pandemic

While furlough inevitably helped property companies stay open during the first months of the pandemic, other Government schemes, like the Stamp Duty Land Tax Holiday, proved invaluable to the industry’s survival. The holiday saw home buyers paying highly reduced Stamp Duty rates, including zero tax on properties priced under £500,000.

Property priceStamp Duty Land Tax rate
Up to £500,000Zero SDLT
£500,001 to £925,0005%
£925,001 to £1.5 million10%
Above £1.5 million12%

Combined with an acute shortage of housing, the SDLT Holiday set the property market on fire. Even as house prices soared across the country, homebuyers remained incentivised to continue buying. Undoubtedly, this helped some property companies stay afloat, despite the devastating effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic. See which agents are performing the best in the current market here.


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