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Property sales recover to pre-lockdown levels across England, says Zoopla



Online agent says pent-up demand is firming up asking prices but data shows London market has failed to rebound


a man with a face mask passes an estate agent window

Zoopla’s figures contrast to those from Nationwide, which last week said house prices across the UK were falling at the fastest rate since the financial crisis. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Patrick Collinson

Property sales in most of England have swiftly rebounded to the same levels they were just before the lockdown, although London lags behind the rest of the country and markets in Scotland and Wales remain closed, according to website Zoopla.

Pent-up demand has also meant firmer prices, said Zoopla, with the average asking price of sales agreed in the last week 6% higher than the same week in June last year. Its figures are in sharp contrast with those from Nationwide, which last week said house prices across the UK were falling at the fastest rate since the financial crisis.

“Lower asking prices for homes sold over the lockdown period may drag down indices over May, but this new data suggests house price growth is set to remain positive in the next two months,” said Zoopla research director, Richard Donnell.

However, London’s market has failed to rebound, with buyers seeking properties outside the capital, as work-from-home policies may leave many more employees no longer needing to commute into the city.

Sales of property in London remain 24.8% lower than the week ending 8 March, just before the coronavirus lockdown, even though the market has been open for four weeks. Sales in the northwest are now just 0.9% below their pre-lockdown level, said the property website, with sales in the southwest running at just 1.7% down.

Rival property website Rightmove last month reported a big spike in searches for homes in the countryside with good transport links and “out of city” locations – ranging from English market towns to Scottish fishing villages – where people could split their working week between home and office once life starts to return to normal.

The scale of the bounce-back in demand is “unprecedented’” said Zoopla. “New sales agreed have rebounded and are just 12% short of the levels seen in early March as buyers return to the market and agree to new purchases; we have seen the number of new sales agreed rise by 137% since the market reopened,” said Zoopla.

Scottish and Welsh markets remain frozen, with the next lockdown review in Scotland due on 18 June and Wales the following day.

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