Rightmove has, for the first time ever, cancelled its monthly report on UK asking prices because it would not be meaningful due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The average price of property coming to market dipped by 0.2% between 8 March – 11 April, the online property portal says, making the average price of a house in the UK £311,950.
But with so few new homes being put up for sale in the last month there has been a freeze on market activity, Rightmove says. Buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell.
“Given the lockdown and pausing of key activities in the housing market, statistics on the number of properties coming to market, new seller asking prices, and new sales agreed are not meaningful,” said Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove.
However, while home buying has drastically fallen, the online property portal reports that the number of existing homes for sale has only fallen only 2.6% since lockdown began on 23 March.
“Agents report that there is good cooperation, with both buyers and sellers keen to hold deals together,” said Shipside. “While some buyers may express concern over the possibility of short-term dips in house prices, many are taking the longer-term view and living up to their commitments to proceed.”
Shipside stressed the importance of support from banks and the government in the coming months to ensure that the property market stabilises. Rightmove called for interest rates to be held down and for banks to continue lending as usual to help activity pick up.
Market Grinding to a Halt
Rightmove has previously suggested that the impact of coronavirus could grind the housing market to a halt, and Zoopla has predicted that new sales will suffer a 60% drop in transactions during the next three months.
On Thursday the government announced that lockdown would be extended by three weeks, and property experts tend to agree that clearer predictions about the property market will only be possible once lockdown measures have ended.
The current situation marks a vast difference to the end of February, when asking prices were close to an all-time high and the construction sector was reported to have grown at its fastest pace in more than a year.
House prices are expected to drop by the end of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, but experts disagree on by how much. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts an average drop of 13%, but other expert predictions range between 3% to 20%.