The impact of Covid-19 on the Lettings Market

Posted in March 2021

12 months of Covid-19 - the impact the pandemic and the virus has had on the Lettings Market

The impact of Covid-19 on the Lettings Market

One year ago on 23rd March 2020 a strict National Lockdown was imposed to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.   Like many other sectors, this meant the Lettings Market ground to an immediate halt. Due to strict government restrictions, viewings and moves were prohibited under all but the most exceptional circumstances and the entire property industry scrambled to cope with these dramatic and unprecedented turn of events.

12 months on, letting agents and landlords have worked tirelessly and around the clock to get the industry back on track and enable tenants to move house in a Covid-safe way.   The Goodlord data team reviewed the highs and lows of the past year by the numbers, with volumes tracked using their Lettings Activity Tracker:-

The Height of National Lockdown

The impact on the property sector was very swift once the National Lockdown was implemented on 23rd March 2020. Up until then, the Property Market in 2020 had been performing robustly - returning higher than average levels of activity on every single day since the start of the year, compared to the averages of 2019. However, from mid-March - as the COVID-19 pandemic concerns increased, the once booming market began to stall. 

Between 13th March - 13th April, the Lettings Market saw the number of new tenancy applications drop from 103% of predicted volumes (compared to the activity of 2019), to just 28% of the expected volumes. A dramatic drop of 72% in one month that was felt across the whole industry. 13th April was the slowest day of 2020. However, from there onwards, activity began to gradually pick up pace again. 

Summer Reprieve

The National Lockdown restrictions were suddenly lifted in early May 2020, with the sector having to rapidly restart operations in a Covid-secure way. Upon re-opening, the market made a slightly erratic return to bigger volumes before bouncing back more consistently in June. 1st June was the first time new tenancy volumes surpassed their 2019 averages since 17th March, as the property industry benefited from a release of pent-up demand. 

The market then hovered just above or below predicted volumes of new and completed tenancies throughout the summer, including the predicted August rush ahead of the new university term. 

Resilient Winter

Despite a slightly more subdued September and October, the real surprise for the market came across the winter. Traditionally a much less fast-paced period, lettings actually surged. Despite the continual changes to the regional tier restrictions and lockdown regulations, house moves were permitted and the market came through November and December in remarkably good shape. 

The number of new lets processed on each day in December 2020 outperformed the 2019 averages. This included a post-Christmas surge, taking the market into 2021 on a high. The busiest winter day for lettings was on 27th December 2020, where volumes of new lets soared to 207% of their 2019 average. 

The week commencing 9th November 2020 - just a few days after the second National Lockdown came into force - was the slowest for the market during the winter months. However, average volumes for new lets during that week only dropped by 3% compared to 2019 levels.  

2021 Lettings Performance to date

The early months of 2021 were not as strong as the first quarter of 2020, which at the time outperformed all expectations. Between 1st January 2021 and 13th March 2021, new lets volumes have been tracking at 93% of those recorded over the same period in 2020. However, the pace of activity in March (to date) appears to be increasing, helped along by the Chancellor's extension to the Stamp Duty holiday, pushing volumes much closer to those seen in 2020 before the pandemic hit. 

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