Coronavirus: House prices may not recover from lockdown slump for 11 months

House prices will take nearly a year to recover from a slide caused by the coronavirus lockdown, according to an industry poll.

Surveyors expect that prices will fall as the market slowly begins to reopen following restrictions imposed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

They are not expected to return to pre-lockdown levels for 11 months, according to the report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

That is slower than the expected rebound in sales levels, which surveyors expect to recover in around nine months.

The monthly update from RICS also said 80% of surveyors had reported buyers and sellers pulling out of transactions during April as the lockdown effectively closed the housing market.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Not surprisingly, the latest survey shows that housing activity indicators collapsed in April reflecting the impact of the lockdown.

“Looking further out, there is a little more optimism but the numbers still suggest that it will be a struggle to get confidence back to where it was as recently as February.

“Moreover, whether this can be realised will largely depend on how the pandemic pans out and what this means for the macroeconomic environment.”

The RICS poll’s headline house price balance fell to -21 in April from +9 in March.

It found that three quarters of surveyors expected prices to fall when the market reopened, with 40% predicting a drop of more than 4%.

A measure of new instructions to sell a property slumped by the most since the survey began in 1999.

Restrictions on the property market and construction sector, designed to combat the spread of coronavirus, began to be relaxed this week.

New guidance for England includes the green light for property viewings in person and visits to agents for both sales and rentals.

Estate agent Savills has said it expects to see house prices fall by 5% to 10% in the shorter term before recovering.

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