Weekly Summary: 1st June 2020

DATA: Zoopla report UK house prices rose 2.4% in the year to April 2020

This was slightly lower than the revised figure for March (2.7%) while their 20 City Index reported annual price growth of 1.9% (2.0% previously).

NEWS: Rightmove report “busiest ever day” on Wednesday 27th May

They report the daily number of visits to their website exceeded six million for the first time, with activity up 18% compared to the same day last year. However, they warn that sales agreed are 47% lower than last year.

NEWS: Zoopla report 60% of people searching for a home prior lockdown still plan to proceed

They also report large increases in activity on their website and interactions with estate agents following the end of the market lockdown but sales agreed, previously running at around 10% of normal levels, were “up 12% in the week after the lockdown”. They also warn that “We expect the recent spike in demand to be relatively short-lived, with demand likely to moderate over the coming weeks”.

NEWS: Glenigan report 47% of suspended private housing development sites have now restarted

But they also report that over 1/3rd of private residential development sites remain closed, a larger proportion than any other sector.

NEWS: Resolution Foundation report renters are more likely to have fallen behind with housing costs than home owners

Their analysis, based on a survey during 6-11 May, show 17% of social renters and 13% of private renters have been unable to cover their housing costs in recent weeks. 8% of mortgaged home owners have also been unable to. It also shows that, with less financial support, renters are more likely to have reduced their spending to cover their housing costs.

Chart of the Week

There is considerable debate about the role of density in the COVID-19 outbreak and the longer-term impact on urban living. Estate agents and listings portals are reporting increased interest in rural property and there are plenty of people suggesting urban living has lost its attraction.

A shift away from urban living would represent a big change on recent trends. For example, London’s total population has grown by 32% since 1981 compared to 19% for the UK as a whole. However, it is not just London’s total population that has changed but also the profile of its residents. One important trend in recent years, as shown below, has been the growth in the number of children living in London. The number of children aged 0 to 4 years has increased 53% since 1981 and the number aged 5 to 9 years has increased 59%.

London and other urban areas will inevitably remain popular amongst younger adults given the social and economic benefits of living in denser locations. However, recent years had already shown falling numbers of younger children, and tracking the number of children living in urban areas in the future will help prove estate agents right or wrong.