Housing market open but viewings drying up

1 Nov 2020

This week in five seconds

  • UK lockdown from 5th November does not close the property market
  • Viewings are already dropping and can still occur (grey area) but likely to drop further unless specifically encouraged by government
  • Lockdown should ease the sales congestion at solicitors
  • Listings falling sharply
  • Stock levels now declining too for first time since May 2020

Housing market to remain open during lockdown but viewings likely to drop significantly

Robert Jenrick tweeted on Saturday that “the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.”

Guidance for hosting property viewings under social distancing was issued in August and summarised here by Graham Norwood.

This suggests to us that estate agents, mortgage valuers and surveyors can go to work, but viewings are unlikely to be deemed by many as a necessity so likely to see a significant decline in willingness of all but the most enthusiastic buyers, and tenants are likely to disallow access.

At Movewise we’d already seen a sharp slow down this week on viewings. Possibly due to the half term break as well as covid restrictions tightening in many areas. Lots of agents are now based at home again and some agency offices only open by appointment. This dynamic is going to worsen significantly with the lockdown from Thursday.

We recommend that sellers may as well stay listed and 3D tours will be very helpful, get these done before Thursday 5th November if you still need them.

For stock that is unsold in early December we would typically recommend delisting and relisting in early January (see article: “When is the best time to sell?”), however this lockdown is going to distort the market again and so we’ll wait and see on that advice.

Sales taking a long time to close, lockdown to ease this

Sales are taking a really frustratingly long time to go through, with solicitors swamped with clients. Some solicitors have closed their books for now and are not taking on new clients.

The lockdown should represent a good time for solicitors to get through the pile up of work they've got and focus on getting stock currently under offer over the line. 

Listings are falling sharply reducing stock levels

Daily new listings are now down 28% from their peak mid-September and this is impacting the stock available on the market. Stock on the market had been rising across the UK until mid-October when it began declining.

London has seen stronger listing growth than the rest of the UK and this is now starting to slow.

A declining stock environment is certainly better for sellers than the last 6 months, however they won’t feel the benefit of this until demand (viewings) is picking up and when that will occur remains far from clear. We expect it to become increasingly challenging for sellers in the short term.


Have a great remainder of your weekend.

The Movewise Team.

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