April 2020 local market reports
We look at our local markets closely and often, well daily, and that is certainly no different as we stay home to save lives and protect our NHS.
As we work from home, we continue to progress our customers' sales & purchases, we are generating leads, handling enquiries, complete virtual valuations and confirm new instructions for property to sell. And we're booking viewings for when lockdown ends. We have in truth, been very pleasantly surprised at just how busy we continue to be.
Our website has increased visitor numbers week on week, with interest in property for sale, our area guides and our mortgage and conveyancing services. Based on current activity we certainly expect our offices across the whole of Bristol to be busy when we return from lockdown.
Scroll down to find your local Bristol area market report, but here's a national perspective first.
Interest rates were cut to just 0.1% in mid-March their lowest ever level, with some economists predicting Coronavirus will create a short, sharp v-shaped economic impact on the UK. Oxford Economics predicts rates will remain at this level until the autumn of 2021. UK inflation was 1.7% in February, down from 1.8% in January and below the government's 2% target.
According to HM Treasury latest consensus forecasts for GDP growth (made between 1st and 14th April) are -5.8% for 2020 and 5% for 2021. The current shutdown will have the biggest impact on the second quarter with the economy expected to shrink by -12.2%. Levels of confidence have a significant bearing on the housing market. Understandably in the current situation, confidence in personal finances and the wider economy have taken a hit with the GFK consumer confidence reporting the most significant fall since records began in 1974 and the largest since the 2008 global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the RICS Residential Survey also reported house buyer sentiment deteriorating sharply in March.
The average price of a property sold in the UK in February was £230,332, 1.1% higher than a year ago, according to the latest data from the UK House Price Index. Wales saw the largest annual increase, 3.4% and the East was the only region to see a decline, -1%.
It will be difficult to gauge the impact of coronavirus on house prices in the short term due to the near stall of transactions but it appears that many homeowners are still requesting valuations of their property according to the on-line Val-Pal network which states they are seeing close to 1,000 requests a day.
Seasonally adjusted it is estimated 99,440 sales took place in March, up 0.3% on a year ago, showing a reflection of the market pre-Covid. This is however likely to be revised downwards. Sales levels for February have been revised downwards by 4.1% to 99,650, 1.1% higher than February 2019.
In the run-up to the Covid-19 crisis, demand levels had been building in the market. 73,456 mortgages were approved in February, the highest monthly total since January 2014 at the peak of the housing market, even exceeding approvals in the run-up to the 3% stamp duty surcharge. With the Coronavirus pandemic pausing activity at present, it remains to be seen whether and how quickly this pent up demand releases once lockdown is lifted.
There has been no mass exodus of properties from the market following the Coronavirus lockdown. Zoopla report stock levels per agent on 7th April were only 1% lower than 7th March. Rightmove report that available stock for sale is only down 2.6% since lockdown. This tallies with the recent Dataloft survey where 81% of agents reported the majority of vendors were keeping their properties on the market.
Demand levels are difficult to measure at the moment with in-person viewings of properties impossible and deals unlikely to be agreed. Understandably the RICS and Zoopla are reporting fewer buyer enquiries. There is some evidence though that potential buyers are still browsing for new homes. Both Rightmove and Zoopla are reporting some increase in online property searches after an initial drop in visits in the initial period of lockdown.
145,000 new private homes were completed in 2019, the highest annual total since 2007, according to data released by the government. Completions were up 7.6% year on year. In comparison, the number of private new homes started fell 10% to 124,250, its lowest total since 2015. The cessation of construction due to Coronavirus will impact the ability of planning authorities to reach housing targets.
As yet Covid-19 has had little impact on the number of the planning pipeline according to Barbour ABI and planning decisions are still being determined. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 the government has made a temporary amendment to the law to allow planning meetings to be held via video link until 31st May 2021.
April local area market reports
Click on your area for a full, local market report. If your BS postcode area is not listed below get in touch, we will produce a report for you!
Redland, Cotham & Westbury Park
Stoke Bishop & Sneyd Park
Thu 23 Apr 2020