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Gloucestershire Business News

Housing market losing 520,000 sales

More than half a million house sales in the UK will be scrapped this year due to coronavirus restrictions, according to new research.

Government guidelines issued last month told people to delay moves if possible and to scrap new viewings.

Property consultancy Knight Frank said the lockdown will result in more than 520,000 home sales being abandoned with 350,000 fewer mortgage approvals in England and Wales if restrictions remain in place throughout May.

That includes 150,000 fewer mortgages for first-time buyers.

And Knight Frank predicts the 38 per cent drop in house sales this year will have a knock-on effect into related industries with DIY and renovations down by £7.9billion and a £395million loss for removal companies.

Tom Hill, head of London residential research at Knight Frank, told The Guardian: "Moving house has a clear multiple effect for the economy.

"Different-sized business in all areas of the economy feel these benefits, which is something the government will take into account when drawing up its post-lockdown stimulus plan."

Knight Frank has called on the Government to introduce a stamp-duty holiday once the lockdown measures are lifted to help the property market get moving.

Property website Rightmove, which covers around 95 per cent of estate agents, said there has been a 40 per cent fall in the number of homes listed for sale since the Government's guidelines were introduced.

Prospective sellers can still deal with estate agents, but many plans have been put on hold.

But homes have not been withdrawn from the market with a fall of just 2.6 per cent.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: "We think it will take several months or more for the market to find its feet in this new, unsteady world.

"During this slow-motion period we do not expect significant price falls as home sellers will not be prepared to cut their prices while it is still not clear how the general public, businesses, financial markets and the Government are going to handle the transition to whatever turns out to be the new normal."

Retailers also continue to struggle in the crisis with an 83 per cent fall in the number of people leaving their homes to go shopping, according to the British Retail Consortium.

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