Property searches spike after housing market reopens

Wannabe movers have hit Rightmove hard since restrictions on the housing market were lifted. Picture

Wannabe movers have hit Rightmove hard since restrictions on the housing market were lifted. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rightmove has reported a significant increase in property searches following the government’s decision to reopen the housing market in England.

Visits to the portal were up by 45 per cent yesterday (Wednesday) morning compared to the same time the day before, while email enquiries to agents also increased by 70 per cent over the same period.

Activity was already beginning to recover prior to the announcement however, with Tuesday being Rightmove’s busiest day of lockdown.

The news that estate agents, surveyors, conveyancers and removal firms could resume operations, as long as safe social distancing measures were followed, was announced on Tuesday night.

Rightmove’s Miles Shipside said: “These are clear signs that the news from the government has prompted more home-hunters to start looking for their next home, and we anticipate further uplift in activity once agents have time to adjust to the new social distancing guidance specific to the home moving sector.

“Movers who have been eagerly waiting to take their home moving plans to the next stage should show some patience with agents given the unexpected announcement, to ensure there’s time to adapt to the new guidelines and ensure everyone is kept safe.”

Steve Walker of Collinson Hall said that his company’s offices will be open by appointment only for the time being, adding that everything will be done “in accordance with government and industry best-practice guidelines”, with appropriate PPE when needed.

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“We are in the fortunate situation where we have been able to replicate all our systems remotely and in a reduced capacity remain open throughout,” he said.

“Consequently we have been able to progress lettings and sale transactions, keep on top of urgent maintenance issues, distribute rent payments for our landlords and keep in touch with our selling clients where necessary.”

Steve added: “We have a number of new instructions that our clients have been waiting to get started – so those will be an area of focus now that we can gain access to these properties.

“We also have enquiries that have been ‘banked’, waiting for viewing restrictions to ease. For instance Gabriel Square had 11 real viewings lined up after people had been walked through our virtual viewings over the last few weeks. These will start on Saturday.

“We have yet to see if the uplift in activity on Rightmove is sustained but it is encouraging nevertheless and reflects the increase in phone calls and emails yesterday.”