Coronavirus: House prices jump in England as estate agents overwhelmed
Tom Belger Finance and policy reporter Yahoo Finance
A man wearing a face mask to protect from coronavirus walks past the window of an estate agent in the Knightsbridge area of central London, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. UK House Price Index average sales figures for March 2020 released today show a 0.2% drop from February 2020 and a 2.1% increase over March last year. The coronavirus lockdown began in the UK on March 24. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Property prices averaged £338,000 in England in June so far, up 1.9% on March, according to Rightmove. (Matt Dunham/AP Photo)
Asking prices for properties in England are more than £6,000 higher than before the lockdown began, according to Rightmove.
Homeowners appear to be confident of cashing in on a “flood of pent-up demand” and new interest in moving sparked by the lockdown, despite the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Rightmove figures published on Monday suggest the number of people contacting estate agents for valuation requests has burst through daily records. “The surprise reopening of the market with only a few hours notice meant many estate agents were not ready for the sudden rush of buyers,” it said.
The site also recorded its 10 busiest ever days in May and June, with the UK collectively spending almost a million hours on the site on 6 June.
The listing site said the price of properties coming to market averaged at £338,000 in England in June so far, up 1.9% or £6,000 on March before the government barred all but essential house moves.
Buyers appeared to be willing to pay near asking prices, despite widespread predictions of an eventual slump triggered by the severe economic downturn. The average buyer secured only a 2.3% discount, down from 3.4% in February.
Agreed sales had plummeted 94% via the platform during the early stages of the lockdown. But Rightmove said it had recorded 40,000 new sales since ministers encouraged home moves again from 13 May.
Rightmove said there was not enough asking price data to produce figures for Scotland or Wales, where tighter restrictions on home moves remain.
“England is getting moving again,” said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.“There are no signs of panic selling or even a price dip. On this evidence buyers may now be trying to exchange quickly.”
He added that rising prices could alleviate lenders’ fears over price instability and its impact on their low-deposit mortgages. “Hopefully this will give them more confidence to increase their range of first-time-buyer products.”
But he also warned: “This positivity will be challenged when unemployment spikes upwards or if mortgage lenders start to pull back from the market.”