The estate agent was encouraged that it had seen the market rebound with a surge in sales enquiries to near-seasonal norms last week as the lockdown of the housing market was lifted.
However, it noted there had again been too few transactions completed in the last month to provide meaningful statistics for its monthly house price index or to give an indication of how prices would be affected.
Explaining the importance of lenders on supporting the market, Rightmove director Miles Shipside (pictured) said: “If there are attractive lower deposit mortgages available it would help sustain the recovery in activity.”
Moneyfacts figures released earlier this month found the number of mortgage deals on the market had reduced by more than half since 1 March from 5,222 to just 2,566 at the start of May.
And borrowers with a small deposit had been those most significantly affected as the Moneyfacts data suggested 843 of the two and five-year fixed mortgage products which were pulled had LTVs of 75 per cent and higher.
Rebuild to take months
Rightmove noted that unique sales enquiries doubled from 12 May to 13 May, when the housing market block was lifted, and was only 10 per cent behind the same day in 2019.
There was also a 111 per cent week-on-week increase in new sales listings on the day the market reopened, although this remained 90 per cent lower than the same period last year.
Rental enquiries were also the highest in one day since September.
Shipside said: “We’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum, with the existing desire to move now being supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings.
“Some may be unable or unwilling to move now, but those who are ready to take the plunge have jumped immediately into action.
“Unique enquiries on property for sale doubled from the day before, though we expect consistent momentum to rebuild over several months rather than weeks.”
Changing housing demands
Shipside added that property trends were already being changed due to the coronavirus impact on daily life.
“High demand could lead to a boost in values for properties that offer inspiring home-working options,” he said.
“But on the other hand, the extra value for a property being close to a popular commuter route may diminish if working from home becomes the new norm.
“We already saw some early signs of people enquiring more about out-of-city areas so it will be interesting to see if this leads to a change in where people choose to buy now the market has been unlocked.”
Reduce price falls
Industry commentators hoped that the quick release of the market from its full lockdown would ease any possibility of a significant fall in prices.
Benham and Reeves director Marc von Grundherr said: “I think we can now look forward to a swift restoration of market activity and in time to have prevented big price falls.”
Former Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) residential chairman Jeremy Leaf added that the data confirmed a release of pent-up demand from buyers and sellers frustrated by enforced confinement, which had underlined the unsuitability of properties and relationships.
“However, this is more of a knee-jerk reaction and it will take time to build momentum and for the market to become fully operational as we all adapt to the new normal,” he said.
“Encouragingly, we have seen sales continue to completion this week and in recent weeks without price renegotiation, often due to the underlying desire to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates.
“Hopefully, lenders will honour pre-lockdown mortgage offers and surveyors will again feel relatively comfortable about revisiting properties, which will allow sales on hold to proceed.”