No seasonal lull for the housing market

By Tom Bill
July 21, 2020

Activity in the UK property market shows no sign of fading over the next several months, says Tom Bill head of UK residential research at Knight Frank

This will be no ordinary summer. Not just because overseas holidays and the Olympic Games have been postponed until 2021. There will also be an unusual pattern of activity in UK property markets for buyers and sellers to navigate.

But first, a recap. The election of a majority government at the end of last year was the starting pistol the property market had been waiting to hear and 2020 started with a bang. Things came to a juddering halt at the end of March and, like many other sectors of the economy, the property market went into a state of suspended animation.

After the re-opening, in mid-May, came a surge in activity that caught most people by surprise. With the numbers of offers accepted by sellers hitting a record high in June. The figure was 46% higher than the second highest month on record which was March this year, underlining that the property market has picked up where it left off before the Coronavirus pandemic struck. The result, as the charts show, is that there is unlikely to be any seasonal lull in July and August this year. The stamp duty holiday announced last week makes this even less likely.

New supply in the first week of July was three times higher than the first week of the year. That compares to an average increase of 26% over the last five years. Meanwhile, demand was 25% higher than the first week compared to a five-year average decline of 20%.

If you’re a buyer, it will clearly pay to do your homework. Indeed, many agents are reporting that first viewings have become the equivalent of second viewings with the more widespread use of video technology.

If you’re a seller, the traditional wait until September before listing your property may not be the most fruitful option this year. The perfect buyer is less likely to be on an overseas beach.

As well as the release of pent-up activity, a number of buyers and sellers are also acting now because they are unsure what the final few months of the year will bring. For some, uncertainty around the impact of a second wave of Coronavirus and the potential economic fallout as the government unwinds its financial support measures is causing them to act sooner rather than later.

Either way, the third quarter of this year will undoubtedly look very different from the second quarter. In time, we will know whether this remains true into the fourth quarter

(Image by MobyMotion)