88% surge in homebuyer demand as market reopens

Huge rebound in buyer demand recorded in cities across northern England and along the south coast...

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 27 MAY 2020

The housing market enjoyed a stronger-than-expected reopening this month, providing a shot in the arm for buyers and sellers sticking to their plans.

House-hunter demand in England rocketed 88% during the market’s first week back from enforced closure, according to Zoopla, with strong growth recorded in major cities including Leeds, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Southampton.

But despite early positivity, still around 40% of would-be buyers have put their search on hold, with virus-related deterrents like loss of income, lingering uncertainty and lack of financial confidence proving too big to shake.

Quick to rebound

Zoopla’s data accounts for the period between May 12-19, the first days the housing market officially returned, with physical valuations and viewings made possible.

It points to significant signs of optimism. Of 2,000 potential buyers asked, 60% remain poised to go ahead with their plans to relocate.

Indeed, buyer demand was 20% higher than at the start of March – with Oxford, Liverpool and Manchester also showing notable surges within the period.

Mark Gordon, director of money, comparethemarket.com believes the unexpectedly resurgent market could throw up some great opportunities for those looking for a move.

“The housing market re-opening sooner than expected has given buyers and sellers a much-needed boost in confidence. Whether this demand is short-lived remains unclear, however, with many buyers undoubtedly deterred from moving as a result of economic uncertainty,” he said.
“For buyers who are in a position to move, mortgage rates are at an all-time low, with two-year fixed rates starting as low as 1.14%. Shopping around online for a fixed-rate mortgage can save prospective buyers money every month and provide certainty on their monthly repayments.”

Housing chains face test

While the latest figures cast positivity over the UK housing market, the longer-term outlook remains uncertain at best.

With most economists expecting a major slowdown in economic growth and rising unemployment, the property market faces several challenges in the coming weeks and months.

Zoopla’s director of research and insight, Richard Donnell explained that, while a significant proportion of sales that had been agreed before lockdown will go ahead, many people are set to show more caution over new deals.

“The majority of would-be movers plan to continue their search, encouraged by low mortgage rates and continued Government support for the economy,” he said.

“However, we expect the latest rebound in demand to moderate in the coming weeks as buyers and sellers start to exert greater caution.

“Further support from the Government can't be discounted and would help limit the scale of the downside risks.”