Coronavirus: Property market sparks into life after shutdown

Property prices in London are expected to drop by 5% this year. Photo: Getty

Online property listings and searches have soared in recent days amid signs that the UK market is returning to some normality.

The government officially re-opened the housing market on Wednesday, allowing renters and buyers to move home and view properties.

Stats show that the number of visits by home-movers to property firm Rightmove's website jumped by more than 5.1 million on Wednesday, up 4% compared with the same day a year earlier. It is understood sales inquiries recovered to 90% of their usual level.

Separate figures also show that the number of new homes listed for sale has more than doubled compared with last week, but this is still just 10% of the usual level as sellers were slower to respond to the reopening of the market.

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Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove, told the Telegraph: “The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum, with the existing desire to move now being supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings.

“With no new seller asking price data it’s too early to comment on price movements, though high demand is needed to support a stable market. If there are attractive lower deposit mortgages available, it would help sustain the recovery in activity.”

Upmarket estate agent Knight Frank last week said it expects prices to fall by 7% in UK and 5% in London this year, with much of the decline already having taken place between March and May.

Liam Bailey, global head of research at the firm added: “We can be fairly certain that this year we will see one of the sharpest falls in economic growth in peacetime.

“It is challenging to get a handle on what is happening to pricing right now. Published indices tend to be backward looking, and those that have been published since the crisis began have inevitably drawn on limited datapoints.”

It is hoped that enormous levels of government support for jobs, combined with ultra low interest rates should prop up prices through the recession.