UK house prices fell last month at the fastest rate since the financial crisis.

When the government imposed a nationwide lock-down on 23 March, the housing market was brought to a standstill along with the wider economy.

Data from HMRC shows the number of residential property transactions in April was approximately 56.7 percent lower compared to April 2019.

Whilst many headlines are full of doom and gloom surrounding the UK property market, I think it will come as no surprise to anybody that transactions were so low when only house moves that were absolutely necessary were allowed to happen during lock-down.

Understandably, many people who were planning a move had to put things on hold due to lock-down. And many potential buyers will be nervous of returning to the market in case there are further job losses once the furlough scheme ends.

What next?

The government has taken steps to reignite the housing market. In England, estate agents have now returned to work and viewings are permitted under certain restrictions.

While buyers are cautious in the short term, many are citing a greater desire to move as we navigate our way out of the covid-19 crisis.

Recognising the importance of a garden and additional space, a growing number of people are considering a move as a direct result of lock-down.

In fact, Rightmove reported 27 May as its busiest day on record, with more than six million visits to its listings.

What do the experts think?

Chris Dean, Director of Chantries in Guildford, Surrey, said: “We think that there will be strong demand in the coming weeks and months, with a reasonable amount of stock also hitting the market.

“The potential issue will be that buyers will try and negotiate a favourable deal, citing the recent events as the reason they want to buy under the asking price. As sellers resist, we are likely to experience a ‘Mexican standoff’ for a period of time.

“My best guess is that as demand increases (especially from London buyers wishing to move to ‘the country’) buyers will have to bridge the gap. We will see very little in the way of reductions from pre-covid values.

“As agents we are likely to be very busy. But the levels of transactions will be low initially as the dust settles, and buyers understand the fact they won’t be able to get the deals they are hoping for.

“We expect a significant upturn in demand from London in particular. People are looking to get out of flats and into town centre houses in Surrey with extra space and gardens, which is understandable after experiencing two months of enforced lock-down.

“If more buyers are able to escape the London commute and work from home, then we will see the demand in village properties increase, as currently you can get better value out of the town centres.”

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