The property market was booming before Covid-19. Average London rent increased by 3.7% from the previous year, and demand was sky high. The entire UK housing sector looked like it was about to hit a boom period.
Fast-forward to March, and the landscape was drastically different. The property market essentially froze as coronavirus spread rapidly across the UK. Only now is it starting to thaw, yet it's hard to come to a sweeping conclusion about the long-term impact of coronavirus on people's budgets and appetite to move home.
To get an idea about how renters have been affected by Covid-19, we looked at trends on Movebubble in an effort to gauge their behaviour and desire to move home.
Here's what we found.
Covid-19 and renter budgets
There's no doubt that average renter budgets were affected by Covid-19, at least in the short term. Things looked rosey in November 2019, with the average enquiry price for a property on Movebubble spiking to £2,100.
The trend continued throughout December, though January — the month the world found out about coronavirus —saw a dip. By March 24th (the day of lockdown), average property prices for enquiries dropped to around £1,000.
Despite the dip, there may be some good news ahead. After the initial drop, April and May saw an uptick in property prices for enquiries. Average prices rose to around £1,200 in April and by a further £200 to £1,400 in May.
While it's too early to make any definitive conclusions, it seems that renter budgets are back on the rise.
Renter budgets by property type during Covid-19
Budgets per property type also revealed some interesting trends. There was a drop in budgets for all property types, yet studio apartments saw one of the biggest drops for 90-day trends during March, April and May.
The same applies for one-bedroom homes. However, they were back on the rise to an average of £1,300 in May after plateauing to around £900 during March.
Covid-19 and renter demand
Renter demand was well above 50% at the start of the year, with February seeing the highest spike so far. By the end of March, however, desire to find new homes fell to its lowest point since January 2019.
With the Government suggesting only essential moves go ahead, it won't come as a surprise to learn that March saw a downturn. The country going into lockdown certainly dampened any appetite to move in the short term.
However, April and May saw an upturn in fortunes. From a low of around 10% demand in March, the following months saw interest rise to above 25%. With the rental market officially open again, the summer months could see even better results as pent-up demand is unleashed.
Has Covid-19 impacted intent to move?
Intent to move slowed down in the wake of Covid-19, as many renters either negotiated their expiring tenancies with landlords or simply waited until they felt safe again to move. Just before the lockdown was announced, renter's intent to move fell to a 12-month low.
Around 50% still had some intent to move, but this figure was down on the 80% at the end of January 2020. The seven-day rolling trend also revealed a dip and was significantly lower than August 2019's near 100% high. Intent to move picked up the pace in April and achieved just below 75% demand in May 2020.
A brighter future?
The general trends show that the appetite to move is on the rise again, despite renter budgets and demand, understandably, slowing around the time of lockdown. It's too soon to suggest the property market will reach pre-coronavirus levels, but there are encouraging signs as renters come back with confidence.
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