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High demand awaits agents after the lockdown, HMRC data suggests

House sales edged down only slightly in March compared with February according to HM revenue & Customs, despite the lockdown in the final week of the month.

Across the UK, 99,440 residential property sales took place in March - that was 0.2 per cent down on February but 0.3 per cent higher than the same month a year earlier.

Agents are taking an optimistic assessment of the figures, indicating how strong the market may well be when the lockdown finally ends. 


Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and the former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says the data confirms experience on the ground - a release of post-Brexit pent-up demand in the early part of the quarter, then very little activity. 

“They show too a wave of demand likely to be released soon as buyers and sellers are telling us they are putting their plans on hold, provided damage to their own prospects and the wider economy is relatively short-lived, and financial support from the government can be maintained” explains Leaf.



And Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, adds: “April and May’s data is likely to show a short-term, downward trend, with many buyers placing their activity on hold throughout April due to not being able to view properties in person and challenges around the completion process. 

“That’s not the case for everyone, however. We have continued to see transactions, which have abided to social distancing rules, and have even seen some deals going through where the buyer hasn’t visited the property at all – showing there is still an appetite to transact. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we can expect to see a bounce in the Autumn as pent-up demand continues to build.”

  • edward apostolides

    So you have this headline which is rather optimistic and by contrast we also have "market will take 5 years to recover". Doom and then boom. Truth is no one actually has a crystal ball yet all continue to claim to be clairvoyants. Amusing really, the actual truth no doubt will land somewhere in the middle, neither doom nor boom. We can only go on the history and that's what it tells us, it usually lands somewhere in the middle. And what's the one constant lesson of history? Answer it continues to repeat itself.

    Keith Russell

    Absolutely nobody on this earth knows the answer. It will be what it will be and we will have to make the best of whatever the outcome, as we always have throughout the ups & downs. For sure this one is somewhat unprecedented, apart from the World wars, where I for one was not around. But I imagine it will be nothing like what our predecessors went through during those times.

  • Andrew Ireland

    OK, so all those who think the market is about to boom, put your houses on the market and buy a bigger house taking on more mortgage. Well some of you will be putting your houses on the market at any rate!.


    People have been delaying their moves since Brexit began, the year kicked off very well, all that is happening is we have lost 3 months of the market, property is still in short supply, families need bigger homes, people are still moving for work. We tend to be creatures of habit and will return to our old ways faster than you think, already since the first signs that we will be opening up May 11th the holiday companies have found a massive surge of enquiries for later in the year...

  • Matthew Payne

    Putting predictions on the housing market or any other market aside, just think of people’s base instincts; I think many commentators grossly underestimate or conveniently ignore how nervous people are about getting CV19, and most of us have still not had it. Ignore all the chumps on the news misbehaving, most people are staying at home trying to avoid getting contaminated. Most people I speak to about the situation are going to be very cautious when the lockdown ends, in terms of changing their lockdown behaviour too much. I know of dozens of examples where people have been told not to come back to the office until October or January, or where they or their businesses are reengineering their routines and lives to accommodate a self-imposed lockdown for many months yet.

    There is always a range of opinion, some people more bravado than others, I am pretty relaxed about it, but feel a responsibility to others. About 2/3s I have spoken to are scared of getting CV19, and the vulnerable group is huge from asthma sufferers, to diabetics to anyone due for surgery who can’t risk getting it, to anyone who has had chemo in the last year or so, to grossly overweight and unfit people, to those with respiratory illnesses or any serious illness, smokers & vapers, and then there is of course the middle aged and the elderly who are more at risk of dying from it anyway. I cant see many people rushing down the pub in May if that’s when it ends, or even June, July or August, or rushing to buy a house, or off to the garden centre or wherever until there is some confidence in being able to stay healthy and alive, it’s not all about the economy and jobs, albeit that will play its part too. I know people quote the risk of dying is low, 3% or thereabouts, but a friend of mine put it very succinctly the other day. "If I put 100 skittles in a bowl and said help yourself, how many skittles would you eat if I told you 3 of them would kill you?" And that’s an average. If you are in the vulnerable group a load of skittles in the bowl will do it, and even then it’s not just about you, its who is close to you that you then infect.

    Social distancing will also play a huge part in our lives for probably the next 12 months, and that will simply slow everything down, reduce capacity and services and sometimes just make certain things unattractive to do. My travel agent tells me people are cancelling their prebooked holidays hand over fist for later in the year, not rushing out to book one. Social distancing in any resort or hotel will ruin most holidays. Think of the queues at the bars, no swimming/splashing allowed, some pools may not even be open. Imagine the kids boredom! I agree there is pent up demand for all sorts of stuff and people will want to move house, but I cant see people sacrificing their health or that of their family in order to satisfy it, so whilst there may be gradual improvements in many markets over the summer and autumn, it is going to be painfully slow until people start to feel safe once more, and I cant see that happening until testing and vaccinations are widely available.


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