How has the coronavirus pandemic affected Bath's property market?

Carey Gilliland, of Madison Oakley, takes a look at the figures and gives us his take on why this summer is a massive on for property. 

Many estate agents have been back to work for a month now, newspaper headlines on property have been crammed full of doom & gloom but how has the Bath property market fared under lockdown and are we now bouncing back? Working with limited staff, appointment only offices and strict viewing protocols has been tough going but I know we’re not alone in experiencing extremely high levels of activity over the last month. It would seem a combination of pent up demand, low supply levels and a post lockdown desire for private outside space have generated viewing number exceeding pre March levels. Happily for our own clients, this has now moved onwards to translate into agreed sales over the last fortnight at or above average levels. Whilst these numbers will take months to trickle through the Land Registry into the public domain, the reported fears of price drops and market contractions so far seem to be at least partially unfounded.

Whilst the general picture over the last month has been more positive than feared, some sectors of the local market look to be a little less well off. Reports last week from both Rightmove and Zoopla suggest interest in 3-4 bed family homes is at peak levels whereas flats may have dropped in search popularity. Locally, we’ve also noticed that newly built homes seem to take up a significant proportion of the “on market” stock (around 24% at present).

Due to the market all but halting over the 8 weeks of lockdown, some current market data can be a bit erratic. For example, there is little point looking at recent completion figures when solicitors refused to move a significant proportion of transactions between late March and mid May. Surveyors ceasing work until late May also held up ongoing sales. However, I think we can get some insights by comparing current “on market” stats with the same period last year. Some of the headlines from this research are 1) 11% drop in property stock levels, 2) 48% – 75% increase in time on market dependent on property type, 3) 23% – 37% increase in selling time.

Asking prices remain relatively unchanged and fresh reports from Rightmove this week even indicate higher prices are being achieved now than post lockdown. However, the next few weeks trading up to the summer holidays will give us a better idea whether this trend will continue.