Coronavirus: Property sales worth £82bn 'on hold' amid lockdown

Property sales in 2020 will be 50% lower than 2019, according to Zoopla predictions. (Getty)

Property sales have dropped dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic with 373,000 transactions on hold until lockdown ends, new analysis of the property market suggests.

The frozen deals are worth £82bn ($102bn), according to estimates by property experts Zoopla.

This leaves estate agents with a £1bn gap in fee income.

Agreed sales were running at a tenth of the normal level for this time of year, usually a busy period for the housing and mortgage markets, and are instead at levels seen around the quiet Christmas period, Zoopla said.

Property sales in 2020 will be 50% lower than 2019, according to Zoopla predictions.

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Government guidance says homebuyers should delay moving where possible and “amicably agree alternative dates to move”. If this is unavoidable due to contractual reasons, social distancing rules must be followed. People can continue to move into empty properties.

Demand from house-hunters plummeted by 70% in March with the fall in demand bottoming out in early April and has since seen a slow improvement, Zoopla said.

Estate agents are offering virtual viewings of homes online and Zoopla said internet browsing rates had slightly recovered in recent weeks.

 “There is a two speed housing market at present. Parts of the market are at a virtual standstill as a result of the physical restrictions that have stopped new supply coming to the market and the viewing of homes for sale,” said Richard Donnell, director of research & insight at Zoopla. 

“However, the online browsing of homes for sale and buyers expressing interest in property have been rising off a low base over the last two to three weeks”.

Demand for housing is still 60% lower than at the start of March, but northern cities have seen a rebound in demand during the past fortnight.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK house prices knocked off all-time high

Sellers are also maintaining their listings rather than withdrawing from the market meaning there will be plenty of properties for sale once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Demand is rising but there is a long way to go until we see a return to typical levels of market activity,” Donnell said.          .