U.K. home sales crater as coronavirus lockdown freezes market
U.K. home sales collapsed last month as the government effectively shut down the market to help slow the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of residential property deals plunged by 53.4% compared with April last year, according to provisional data published by the U.K. tax authority on Thursday. About 46,440 home sales were recorded.
The government's virus lockdown made property deals difficult, with restrictions on people's movement and gatherings forcing realtors and potential buyers to resort to virtual property inspections. The measures put 82 billion pounds ($100 billion) of home sales on hold, with the market in a state of "suspended animation," property portal Zoopla Ltd. said in late April.
The move was an extraordinary step by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government, which has staked much on maintaining the country's high levels of home ownership. The limits were eased last week, allowing realtors to show homes again and moving companies to resume work. The housing market may take time to revive, however, with the country heading into a deep recession.
Deals for nonresidential property dropped to 5,930 in April, a 45% reduction compared with the year-earlier period, according to HM Revenue and Customs. The data are subject to revisions as more sales are processed.