The latest research by Spotahome, the international rental marketplace, has revealed online visits and engagement by homebuyers and tenants across 28 European nations has fallen by an average of just -0.4% monthly since November last year. However, in the UK the decline has been greater at -4.1%, as many have been unable to follow through with their search due to the property industry lockdown.
The UK saw the eighth largest decline in online property market activity of 28 European countries based on the leading online portals for each nation, with just Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium and Greece seeing a greater drop.
In contrast, Austria (7.8%), Finland (7.8%) and Sweden (7.4%) saw the highest average monthly increase in online property market activity.
Although many high street agents have tried to pivot with lockdown market restrictions, other fully digital platforms have remained largely unaffected, with Spotahome seeing website traffic increase consistently for seven straight weeks.
This is largely due to Spotahome’s operational foundation. Since its inception in 2014, Spotahome has focused on facilitating contactless rental moves without the need for in-person visits, instead allowing tenants to view the property via digital walkthroughs. Their long-established expertise in doing so has enabled them to allow tenants to carry on with their search and secure a place to live, either in their own country or abroad, despite social distancing measures
With its ‘reopening’ last week, the UK property market is widely expected to bounce back. Data from Yomdel shows that so far this month, new enquiry volumes from landlords, homebuyers and tenants were already well above the 62-week pre-coronavirus lockdown levels. This high demand reflects the high proportion of the UK population that rents: the UK is home to the sixth highest proportion of renters of all 28 European nations; with 35% of us reliant on the sector to put a roof over our heads.
There should also be plenty of stock to satisfy this demand, as the latest figures show there are currently over 100,000 rental properties listed across the UK’s 23 major cities despite wider market conditions.
With an abundance of stock and high demand from UK and international tenants, Spotahome believes the UK rental market will see a swift return to form now that industry restrictions have eased. But will it be the market we recognise from prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus?
Jack Kuecker, Spotahome’s Director for UK and Ireland, commented:
“It’s interesting to see how the severity of the current pandemic has impacted property market sentiment across Europe. This is, of course, influenced by the varying levels of lockdown restrictions, with some nations maintaining a business as usual stance while others have ceased market activity completely.
The good news is the most recent market indicators suggest the UK market is set for a swift comeback. We’ve already seen a sustained level of activity across our platform for the duration of the UK lockdown; both domestic and international tenants are keen to find rental properties.
In the current climate, tenants are embracing the additional sense of safety that comes with contactless viewings as it allows them to progress with their search without visiting the property. This is already something that the latest generation of renters are becoming accustomed to and for future generations, a shift towards 100% digital renting could quite easily become the new norm.
Our foundation as a business has always facilitated a completely digital approach to renting. However, it’s highly likely that the events of the last few months will now act as a catalyst within the property sector, accelerating the digitalisation seen over previous years and evolving industry practices to operate on an almost completely digital basis.”