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Residential property sales in the UK in April hit their lowest monthly level since comparable records began in 2005, new figures show.
There were 38,060 transactions in April, according to provisional numbers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
This was less than half the level seen in the same month last year.
Spring is usually a busy period for the property market, but the coronavirus lockdown halted activity.
The government lifted many of these restrictions on the sector in England in mid-May. The total number of UK property sales is slightly less than the previous low when the taps were turned off in the property market at the height of the financial crisis in January 2009.
Two roads in Rochdale have been painted with messages to thank key workers from medical staff to care workers, social workers, waste operatives and many more for the great work they are doing during this awful pandemic. The markings are now down at Whitehall Street at the approach to Rochdale Infirmary and outside Birch Hill Hospital.
Economists and housing experts are forecasting UK-wide price falls of up to 13%, with “brutal” declines in some areas, as the property market struggles to rebuild during the coronavirus crisis.
The range of forecasts from the major researchers is markedly wider than usual. At one end is the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which predicts that 2020 prices will be down by 13% “as a lack of transactions, high uncertainty and falling incomes take their toll”. But the estate agent Savills said the hit to the market could be more like 5%, and a third of valuation surveyors are predicting that price falls may be limited to 4% or less.
The post-lockdown market will be a buyer’s market, said Jonathan Hopper of Garrington Property Finders, as he forecast falls of 10% nationally and 15% in some areas.
“Areas with a more resilient jobs market should see values hold up better, but elsewhere the price correction could be more brutal,” he said.
Knight Frank, in a revised forecast issued this week, said it anticipated a fall of 7% in 2020, more than its earlier forecast of 3%. Its analysis suggested prices had already fallen 5% since March, with a further downtick to come.
Human trials of a potential vaccine for coronavirus created by an Oxford research team have begun.
Loans totalling £250m have been made available to unlisted, high-growth companies and £750m of grants and loans are available for SMEs in research and development.
The government is to pay 80% of most people’s salaries, up to £2,500 per month, in addition to a bailout package worth £350bn for businesses struggling due to the coronavirus. Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 per month.
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In England the February data shows, on average, house prices have fallen by 0.6% since January 2020. The annual price rise of 0.8% takes the average property value to £246,341.
The regional data for England indicates that:
the South West experienced the greatest monthly price rise, up by 0.5%
the East Midlands saw the most significant monthly price fall, down by 1%
London experienced the greatest annual price rise, up by 2.3%
the East of England saw the lowest annual price growth, down by 1%
UK house prices
UK house prices increased by 1.1% in the year to February 2020, down from 1.5% in January 2020. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices in the UK decreased by 0.6% between January 2020 and February 2020, compared with a fall of 0.3% during the same period a year earlier (January 2019 and February 2019).
The UK Property Transactions Statistics for February 2020 showed that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the estimated number of transactions of residential properties with a value of £40,000 or greater was 103,870. This is 6% higher than a year ago. Between January 2020 and February 2020, transactions increased by 4.5%.
House price growth was strongest in Wales where prices increased by 3.4% over the year to February 2020, up from 2.5% in January 2020. The highest annual growth within the English regions was in London, where average house prices grew by 2.3%, this was due to a decrease in average house price between January 2019 and February 2019. The lowest, and only negative, annual growth was in the East of England, where prices decreased by 1% over the year to February 2020.