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Property investors retreat from market

Property investors retreat from market

One in five UK investors are no longer buying property this year due to the coronavirus, according to research.

A survey of 850 UK investors found 20 per cent had planned to buy at least one property this year but will no longer do so because of the coronavirus.

This was particularly noticeable among prospective buyers aged between 18 and 34, as four in 10 (39 per cent) had put their plans on hold.

Despite this, almost half (48 per cent) saw property as a safe and secure asset during the pandemic, while a mere 12 per cent disagreed and four in 10 were unsure.

Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, which carried out the survey at the start of the month, said there was a “clear reluctance to engage with the market” despite the view that property was still regarded as a “safe investment avenue”.

Additionally, the survey found that 19 per cent of investors with plans to sell at least one property were no longer doing so this year.

Elsewhere buyers appeared to be more confident however, as mortgage brokers told FTAdviser they have been approached by clients looking to snap up properties.

Anthony Rose, director at LDNfinance, said: “We have seen a flurry of enquiries from existing and new clients over the last few weeks and expect the buy to let market to be strong for the rest of the year.

“We have also seen an uptick in enquiries from first time buyers too, who have decided that their lockdown living arrangements have increased their desire to purchase their own property sooner, rather than later.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said there could be opportunities for BTL investors.

He said: "Given the current pandemic and potential short-term implications on house prices, those looking to sell may hold off - while those looking to expand may be looking for opportunities sooner rather than later where other owner-occupier purchasers are out of the market with fewer, or no options in the high loan-to-value mortgage space."

Meanwhile the survey also found that investors’ reservations extended beyond property, as 43 per cent said they were not making major financial decisions until the pandemic passes.

Those who took part in the survey all had investments worth more than £10,000 excluding property, pensions, savings and Sipps.

Mr Johnson said the government’s decision to relax lockdown measures meant that investors’ sentiment could change from a ‘wait and see’ approach in the coming weeks.

Last week (May 13) the government published new guidance on moving home after announcing its plan to restart the housing market in England.

Mr Johnson predicted a “swift recovery” in property prices and transactions “once pent-up buyer demand is released” as a result of lockdown measures being lifted.

chloe.cheung@ft.com