Knight Frank: Government intervention needed or UK will see 350,000 fewer mortgage approvals in 2020

Ryan Fowler

April 20, 2020

The government will need to reignite the housing market or the UK could face the loss of 526,000 home sales in 2020 with 350,000 less mortgages approved, according to analysis conducted by global property consultancy Knight Frank.

This fall in transaction volumes represents a reduction of 38% on 2019 and poses significant economic implications, according to the research.

Based on the assumption that the current lockdown will remain in place through April and May, with a gradual lifting through June, Knight Frank has forecasted that the knock-on impact of the housing market shut down will also result in 350,000 fewer mortgage approvals in England and Wales this year.

This fall in activity will be multiplied across the economy. Knight Frank’s estimate is a loss of £7.9bn in DIY and renovation spend and £395m on removals companies.

There will be a wider economic impact, including the loss of employment and general mobility. This drop in economic activity will have a huge impact on The Exchequer with the loss of £4.4bn in stamp duty accompanied by a decline of at least £1.6bn in VAT[and significant declines in personal and business tax revenue.

Tom Bill, head of London Residential Research at Knight Frank, said: “Moving house has a clear multiplier effect for the economy.

“Different-sized businesses in all areas of the economy feel these benefits, which is something the government will take into account when drawing up its post-lockdown stimulus plan.”

In addition, fewer house purchases will lead to a sharp decline in mortgage activity.

Simon Gammon, managing partner, Knight Frank Finance explains that, as a result of the lockdown, lenders are likely to issue almost 350,000 fewer mortgages for house purchase this year than they otherwise would have done.

That includes more than 150,000 fewer mortgages to first-time buyers, underlining how crucial it is for the whole economy that property industry professionals are able to get back to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

He said: “It’s become increasingly clear lenders are eager to do business.

“Two weeks ago many banks retreated to the safety of more conservative lending criteria as they were overwhelmed by calls in the wake of two Bank of England rate cuts and the shut-down of many international call centres.

“But in recent days we’ve seen the major lenders coming back, raising the loan-to-value ratios they are willing to lend at, eager to gain market share. All they need to get the borrowers moving is a functioning housing market.”

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