Home buyers shrug off recession as the market strengthens

The housing market is the strongest it’s been in five years despite the recession – according to a report by Zoopla this week.

Autumn is traditionally a good time to put your house up for sale, but it seems demand remains at 78% above last year – and market conditions are expected to remain stronger than last year for the rest of 2020.

Rebound post lockdown also shows little signs of slowing. The increase in buyer demand since the start of 2020 is 34% higher than over the same period in 2019, above the 25% reported by Zoopla last month and, despite the summer holiday season, demand remains unseasonably strong.

The time to sell a home has reduced across the UK. The number of days to sell a property in the last 90 days has been 27 days, compared to 39 days over the same period in 2019.

Buyer appetite has been widely attributed to pent-up demand resulting from lockdown, but it also reflects the impact of the nation as it collectively reassesses what it wants and needs from a home. Quarantine has spurred many homeowners and renters into reconsidering their home requirements, resulting in demand for more space and changing work and commuting patterns.

Three-bedroom houses remain the fastest selling property on the market, with an average time to sell of 24 days since the lockdown lifted.

The supply / demand imbalance is most pronounced for three-bed houses. While they are the most in-demand property type, the proportion of available supply falls short of demand across all parts of the UK – supporting faster sales periods.

Four and five-bed houses are selling 33% faster than in 2019, as buyers prioritise more space and widen their search criteria – migrating away from the more expensive cities, suburbs and commuter belts while enabling their budgets to stretch further.

Meanwhile, flats are taking the longest time to sell at an average of 32 days – although this still remains quick.

Commenting on the latest UK House Price Index, Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director, Zoopla, said: “Housing market conditions remain unseasonably strong despite the UK moving into recession. Demand continues to outpace supply and support house price growth of 2.5% per annum. Meanwhile, houses are selling faster than flats as we see a shift in buyer priorities in the wake of the lockdown and movers prioritise more space.

“The next important milestone for the housing market comes in September when schools reopen and the UK starts to get back towards a full reopening of the economy.  The ‘once in a lifetime’ re-evaluation of housing requirements on the back of the lockdown will be a counterweight to the impact of the recession on housing market activity over the rest of 2020.  While demand has softened over August, we expect the current momentum in market activity to continue into 2020Q4.”

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