Savills has kept in touch with almost 2,000 of its vendors and prospective buyers through two mass webinars.
Entitled ‘What COVID-19 means for the UK residential property market’, the sessions kicked off with a research briefing, followed by a Q&A session to respond directly to client questions.
Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, gave a detailed update on current market signals, learnings from previous downturns, the latest consensus view of lead economists, and the Savills research view on what Coronavirus will ultimately mean for house prices and transaction volumes.
This was followed by a Q&A, with a panel of senior Savills agents including Andrew Perratt, head of country residential; Jane Cronwright-Brown, head of lettings; Jonathan Hewlett, head of London region; Liza-Jane Kelly, director, London region; Ed Lewis and head of London residential development sales.
For the buyer session, the panel was also joined by Jaime Harris from SPF Private Clients to give advice on questions relating to mortgage finance.
“Many of us who have worked in the market from a number of years thought we’d seen everything, but none of us have ever lived or worked in anything like the current environment. The one thing that history tells us, however, is that in times of real uncertainty – and we’ve certainly got that – both buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants want data and informed opinion before deciding their next property move” explains Savills’ global head of residential, Justin Marking.
The stand out themes in the questions from both buyers and sellers were about pricing and what the lockdown and its aftermath will mean for sales volumes.
“Most economists are forecasting a sharp V-shaped downturn, which leads us to expect short term price falls of between five and 10 per cent during a period of very low transaction levels. But we stand by our published five-year forecasts that would see average UK house price growth of around 15 per cent” says Lucian Cook.
“Indeed, if we look at our own agency indicators, we saw unprompted web hits rise to within just eight per cent of levels seen in January and February of this year, while new buyer registrations ticked up by 50 per cent in the same week, albeit from a low base. This suggests that buyers may be just beginning to think past lockdown, though this may not convert into an uptick in actual activity until the autumn.”