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Home buyers back to browsing property since Covid-19 lockdown

The number of hours home buyers spend online looking for property has increased since the lockdown with 40% rise in London.

Since the Coronavirus lockdown browsing activity of home buyers decreased as much as -51% during March according to Zoopla and has since bounced back with London the strongest with 40.5% more activity.

This suggests first time buyers, buy-to-let investors and home movers are preparing for the time lockdown restrictions are lifted since social distancing shut down the housing market.

At the start of the month browsing activity fell by -50% but has been rising steadily and online engagement is -30% compared to 1 March levels.

Research from the Zoopla Cities House Price Index shows 373,000 properties are unable to complete holding-up £82 billion of transactions as the lockdown continues.

Browsing more active in London

In the first three weeks of March online browsing in London reduced by -41.8% increasing towards the end of the month and by 26 April was only -18.2% less than at the start of March.

This table from Zoopla shows the fall in browsing activity comparing the 1 March to the 29 March and 26 April for regions in the UK.
Region 29 March
26 April
London -41.8% -18.2%
Northern Ireland -48.5% -20.1%
North West -46.7% -23.1%
North East -48.9% -23.4%
South East -49.1% -24.2%
East of England -48.2% -25.3%
South West -49.5% -25.4%
Wales -48.4% -28.8%
Yorkshire & Humber -47.5% -30.3%
Scotland -46.5% -32.0%
West Midlands -51.3% -34.5%
East Midlands -51.1% -35.2%
Home buyers have been active in the North West of England with browsing up by 44.2% since 29 March and is now -23.1% less than activity on 1 March.

Unlike other UK regions, the Midlands has only a modest rise in browsing in the last month and this could be due to economic stability.

Existing homeowners are unaffected by the Coronavirus disruption as remortgage buyers at the end of your mortgage deal can switch to a new preferential rate reducing your monthly repayment costs.

Gráinne Gilmore, Head of Research at Zoopla said, our data suggests that browsing activity is also translating into increased demand, and this is being seen across all price brackets for properties in the UK.

Equity release buyers not affected

In contrast to home buyers, people releasing equity from their home can avoid downsizing to a smaller property and the lockdown restrictions do not affect them in this respect.

Older equity release buyers can stay in their home by accessing wealth in their property with a lifetime mortgage to repay an interest only mortgage or gift to a family member or friend.

Providers have changed the products as surveyors cannot perform physical valuations during the lockdown so these are completed by desktop.

Providers now have lower maximum loan to values (LTV) with higher interest rates although 42% of products are under 4% and the best rates are from 2.58% if you release a smaller cash sum.

Even buy-to-let landlords can use a lifetime mortgage for their property portfolio increasing their income in retirement as there are no interest payments to make.

What are your next steps?

Talk to our London City Mortgage advisers if you are an older homeowner releasing equity from your property, we can recommend the lifetime mortgage to access wealth to improve your quality of life or pay university fees for grandchildren.

Learn more by using the equity release calculator, property value tracker chart and mortgage costs calculator. Start with a free mortgage quote or call us and we can take your details.

At LCM our mortgage brokers can provide advice if you are a first time buyer, moving home, want to remortgage your existing home to a new cost effective mortgage deal or are a buy-to-let investor.


Mortgage Best Buys

These are examples of mortgage products we can approach with many more offering interest rates and flexibility to meet your needs.

1.16% Fixed Rate
60% Loan to Value
£1,525 App Fee
Until 01/11/2022
Reverts to 4.09%
1.19% Fixed Rate
60% Loan to Value
£999 App Fee
2-Years Time
Reverts to 3.59%
1.18% Fixed Rate
60% Loan to Value
£1,034 App Fee
Until 31/10/2022
Reverts to 3.59%
1.17% Fixed Rate
60% Loan to Value
£1,025 App Fee
Until 31/09/2022
Reverts to 3.59%

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  • IMPORTANT

    Equity Release may involve a Lifetime Mortgage or a Home Reversion Scheme. To understand the features and risks, please ask for a personalised illustration. Equity Release may affect your entitlement to means tested state benefits and will impact on the size of your estate. For Equity Release London City Mortgages charge a fixed fee upon completion of £695. For Mortgages a fixed fee is charged on application. Typically this is from £295 up to £495 for the services selected.

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