U.K. Coronavirus Lockdown Puts $102 Billion of Home Sales on Hold

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The U.K. coronavirus lockdown has put 82 billion pounds ($102 billion) of home sales on hold, with the market in a state of “suspended animation,” according to property portalZoopla Ltd.

Government restrictions intended to slow the outbreak have effectively shut down the housing market, stalling about 373,000 deals that were set to complete between April and June, Zoopla said in areport on Tuesday. That amounts to a backlog of 1 billion pounds of fee income for realtors.

Completed home sales this year will be half of the 2019 level, according to Zoopla. The number of buyers actively browsing Zoopla’s website for homes dropped as much as 70% in March, before recovering slightly in the two weeks through April 19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work this week and told the country it’s beginning to pass through the peak of the outbreak, buturged people to observe limits on movement until the danger of a second spike has passed. Scientists are drawing up options for lifting the restrictions, with some details of the plan expected to be set out later this week. There are growing calls for a path to restarting the economy from business owners and members of Johnson’s own Conservative Party.

“The positive news is that the total number of properties for sale is just 4% lower than levels registered at the start of March, as vendors maintain listings, indicating no mass withdrawal,” according to the report. “This is critical to ensuring a faster rebound to full market health once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.”

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