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Post-virus recovery dependent on gov support

Property market activity was positively strong in the first few months of the year, with enquiries on the rise and a healthy demand from buyers. A month on from businesses closing their doors and turning to remote working – where does the property market stand and what can we expect for the rest of the year?

The March 2020 RICS UK Residential Market Survey highlighted positive market growth in the beginning of the year but warned April would have a heavy impact on how the rest of the year will shape up.

March data showed how quickly things can change within a matter of weeks, with a net balance of -74% respondents to the survey reporting a fall in buyer demand, a sharp drop from +17% previously. March also saw fewer agreed sales across the UK, with 69% more respondents reporting a fall – down from the 19% reporting a rise in February.

What looked to be a year of high expectations in terms of demand and growth in the market, has now changed to a bleak outlook. With lockdown measures in place, it has become increasingly difficult to conduct business in the same ways as before – this in turn has seen the market slow its pace dramatically. As expected, the majority of respondents had a negative view for the coming months and were cautious for the year as a whole.

Long term, the survey reflected a glimmer of hope, with many believing the market will recover but are hesitant in how long this will actually take. Although the government have measures in place to try to soften the blow of Covid-19 on the economy, will this be enough to reignite buyer demand and at what rate?

Many expressed that the government would need to start thinking ahead and introducing measures to bridge the gradual move back into a fully functioning economy – specifically in the housing marketing. What the government does in the wider economy will have a butterfly effect on the housing market, feedback from the survey suggested that support for businesses and people back into work will be essential in getting the housing market back on its feet. 

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