Viewings fall

Property instructions and viewings fall in November, but not at the level seen during first lockdown

Data published by Andrews, the south of England property group, reveals that instructions and viewings fell significantly in November, as a second lockdown took the wind out of the sails of a property market turbo-charged by the stamp duty holiday.

Instructions were down 30% and viewings fell 18% last month, according to buyer and seller data analysed by Andrews, as the country got to grips with the new restrictions, which kicked in on 5th November.

However, with the Government allowing estate agents to remain open, the drop in activity wasn’t as pronounced as during the first lockdown, when agents had to close their doors.

In April, a week after the country shut down on 23rd March, instructions fell 86% and viewings plummeted 99%.

Seasonal factors may also have contributed to the dip in buyer and seller activity in November, as it is traditionally a quiet month for the property market

Andrews figures show that instructions fell from 454 in October to 317 in November, with just under 5,000 viewings last month compared to more than 6,000 in October.

Virtual viewings were popular during November. Almost four in ten (39%) viewings were virtual. The number of virtual viewings only dropped 4% in November vs October, compared to a 25% drop in physical viewings.

David Westgate, Group Chief Executive, Andrews Property Group, commented: “We were expecting buyer and seller activity to fall in November, fortunately the drop wasn’t anywhere near as severe as we experienced in April.

“The Government giving estate agents the green light to remain open in November certainly helped. We were also well prepared as a business to revert to virtual viewings, to ensure the safety of our customers and staff, while keeping the market moving. 

“Almost 40% of viewings last month were virtual and buyers are definitely more comfortable now with the idea of remote viewing a property, at least when it comes to the first viewing.

“Now the second lockdown is over and it’s business as usual, we are already seeing a significant uplift in viewings and instructions. Buyers are looking to make offers in time to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and both sides are keen to get transactions moving before the Christmas break. 

“While December is traditionally a quieter month for the property market, we’re expecting activity to be buoyant right up until Christmas.

"Buyers recognise they need to make offers and start the conveyancing process soon, or they might struggle to complete before the stamp duty holiday comes to an end in March. 

“And sellers, mindful that the Government still hasn’t agreed a trade deal with the EU, are keen to secure offers before the end of the year, as no-one really knows how the property market and wider economy is going to react if we leave with no deal.”