English property sales rebound after lockdown ends – Rightmove

LONDON (Reuters) – Estate agents in England have seen a rebound in house sales since the government eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions on May 13, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Newly built properties and “for sale” signs are seen at a Barratt housing development near Haywards Heath, Britain, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Rightmove said sales during the lockdown fell by 94%. By June 5 sales were just 3% below their level a year earlier, while over the previous three weeks they averaged two thirds of their previous level.

“There are signs of high pent-up demand and upwards price pressure, rather than downwards,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said.

Average asking prices for properties on the site were 1.9% higher than before the lockdown. For properties where a sale had been agreed, the accepted price was 98% of the asking price, slightly higher than in February.

The figures do not cover Scotland or Wales, where coronavirus restrictions on property sales are tighter.

Rightmove’s site is used to market the majority of British residential property.

Zoopla, another property website, reported a similar picture last week, though it warned that the surge in demand may not last through 2020, especially if more people lose jobs when temporary government support measures end.

Nonetheless, the figures add to signs from other business surveys of a resumption of activity in sectors where lockdown restrictions have been relaxed.

A further key test will begin this week, when shops selling non-essential goods reopen to the public.

Official data last week showed the economy suffered a historic collapse during the lockdown in March and April, with activity down by a quarter on normal levels, a far bigger fall than in the financial crisis.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg

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