In Brief

Property sales down 70% since coronavirus lockdown

Government guidelines urge people not to move house during the pandemic

Property sales agreed in the UK have fallen by 70% since the start of the coronavirus restrictions, according to new data.

Zoopla told the BBC that properties were still selling and being newly listed until the start of the lockdown on 23 March, but sales began to falter after ministers unveiled guidelines urging people not to move house during the lockdown. 

The government said: “There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times.

“When the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance... on home removals.

“Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move.”

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Although sales continued they have been at much lower levels. The number of homes for sale per estate agent is only 1% lower than it was on 7 March, and Zoopla said that though there has been “no mass withdrawal of homes from the market”.

However, it added: “The closure of estate agency branches and general uncertainty has resulted in far fewer sales agreed in the last two weeks, with less new supply coming to the market”. 

Last week, it was reported that the coronavirus pandemic has broken the UK property market. The Treasury is set to lose almost £5bn in stamp duty as the coronavirus triggers a dramatic fall in property sales and prices, warned leading estate agent Savills.

Financial services group Jefferies predicted that house prices could fall by as much as 20%, knocking £46,900 off average prices. 

The gloomy forecast came a week after a leading property economist said the coronavirus crisis looks set to bring London house prices to a “juddering halt”.

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