The speed and success of the Coronavirus vaccine programme holds the key to the housing market rebounding in the second half of the year.
That view - from Savills - comes as surveyors’ data suggests that the market is set to falter after a remarkable bull run despite Covid-19 dominating the past year.
House prices look set to dip over the next few months amid ongoing lockdown restrictions and the end of the stamp duty holiday, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Its latest sentiment survey shows that in December prices, sales and buyer demand all increased but at a slower pace than seen in previous months. Predictions for sales in the early part of this year are at their lowest level since April although the outlook for the year ahead remains relatively strong.
Against that background, Savills - in a trading statement to its shareholders - says: "The pace and efficacy of mass vaccination programmes and consequent reductions in lockdown and travel restrictions will dictate the rate at which transactional markets recover from here to reflect underlying demand.
"In general terms, we expect transactional activity to remain suppressed in the first half of 2021 with improvement commencing in some individual markets in the second quarter followed by progressive recovery through the second half of the year."
The high end agency and property consultancy, which has much greater exposure to International markets and the commercial real estate sector, says its UK activities in 2020 enjoyed an “extraordinary rebound” from the end of May, predominantly in the high end regional residential markets outside London.