Home sales halved in April as housing market went under lockdown

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

The sharp fall was expected due to Government measures, but transactions are expected to pick up now lockdown is starting to ease

Residential property transactions in April 2020 were 53.4% lower than April 2019, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

At 46,440, they were also down by 46.1% compared to March 2020.

Non-residential property transactions were similarly affected by the current crisis and lockdown. In April 2020 there were 5,930 transactions – 45.2% lower than April 2019.

These estimates show that sales have fallen to levels last observed during the 2008 global financial crisis, reflecting both the impact from Coronavirus (COVID-19) and housing market restrictions between 26th March and 13th May.

Shaun Church, director at mortgage broker Private Finance, said: “These latest figures expose the true impact the lockdown has had on the UK’s property market, with the government’s decision to freeze the bulk of transactions to reduce the spread of the virus resulting in the market hitting the wall hard.”

“Transaction volumes may recover quickly following the government’s decision to reopen the property market in England. Huge pent up demand could be released as prospective buyers rush up to pick up their pre-lockdown property searches, while those who put their purchases on ice may try to rapidly push them through.”

Andrew Southern, chairman of property developer Southern Grove, added: “The sheer scale of the collapse is staggering but what has to be remembered is that demand for residential property sales cannot be compared with demand for other items in consumers’ regular basket of goods.

“Residential transactions are usually motivated by necessity so, subject to the economic realities that prevail as the country starts to emerge from this crisis, many of these missing sales should rise from the deep. This will hopefully shore up confidence in the housebuilding sector as activity rebounds unusually strongly later this year.”