Online estate agent Rightmove says traffic returned to normal market levels following government announcement

Online estate agent Rightmove has said that the number of prospective housebuyers doubled overnight last week in the wake of the government’s decision to reopen the housing market.

For sale sign

The firm’s monthly market report said it saw a surge in traffic in the wake of the announcement, reflecting pent-up demand for homes, with website traffic higher on the following day than at the same time last year.

The firm said the number of “home-mover visits” to Rightmove hit 5.2m last Wednesday, the day after the announcement of the lifting of housing market lockdown, a number 4% above the same day last year.

It said that overnight unique enquiries on the website doubled between Tuesday and Wednesday, to a level just 10% below the same day in 2019.

However, for the second month in a row, Rightmove said it wasn’t able to provide an update on house prices across the month because of a lack of available data.

On Tuesday evening the government announced that it was effectively reopening the property market, allowing buyers to view properties, removals firms to do their work and estate agents to reopen. The reopening was conditional on the implementation of new social distancing guidelines which mean that all viewings and contact must be limited and by appointment. The market had been effectively closed to all but “critical” home moves since the imposition of lockdown measures to fight the coronavirus in March.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst said the figures demonstrated “clear signs of returning momentum,” in the market, with the desire to move being “supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings.”

He added that while some buyers had clearly “jumped immediately into action”, he expected consistent momentum in the market “to rebuild over several months rather than weeks.”

Estate agent Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said that he had experienced an immediate flurry of activity across our branch network in the wake of the government announcement. Marc von Grundherr, director at Benham & Reeves in London, said he had seen a “warm but cautious welcome to the re-opening of the property market after weeks of being cryogenically frozen.”