Property market steadies as coronavirus lockdown bites

With coronavirus deaths and hospital admissions surging to record highs, the UK property market slowed as despite progress with the vaccination programme people once again adapted to the grim situation and acclimatised to life under a new strict lockdown that could last months, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.

Estate agents and other home moving services have been able to remain operational during lockdown, but the looming stamp duty holiday deadline of 31 March may be making vendors less optimistic they will find buyers willing to meet their price aspirations in the time remaining, leading to an emerging imbalance in between vendors and buyers.

Sales progression log jams are also acting as a brake, with delays adding further uncertainty. Vendors were flat in the week, buyers rose 3%, landlords dipped 1% and tenants slid 7% over the previous week, YPST data for the week ending midnight 17 January showed.

As with last year, the latest lockdown has once again spurred people to connect with estate agents via digital channels. Traffic to own-branded estate agent websites was 22% higher than the same week 2020, while the number of people engaging in real-time live chat online was 21% higher, and the number of leads being generated some 23% higher.

Yomdel provides 24/7 managed live chat services to 3,800 estate agent offices in the UK, handling more than a 1.5m chats per year. It has analysed the data and leads captured in live chat going back to January 2019, up until week ending 17 January 2021. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 47 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder and CEO said:

“Seeing the vaccination programme gather speed is incredibly reassuring but we’re still in this for the long haul. People clearly still need to move but as the stamp duty deadline looms and economy continues to contract agents say more and more people are opting to play a bit of a waiting game. People are definitely in the market but they need more encouragement.

“Getting a vaccination may be the most eagerly anticipated thing for most people, but the best shot in the arm for the property market right now would be for the government to agree to extend the stamp duty holiday to enable pipelines to work their way through without artificial deadlines causing deals to collapse and yet piling more misery on some families.”

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