Since being allowed to officially reopen on May 13, the property market has returned with a bang, according to Rightmove.
The property portal reports that last Wednesday, May 27, it recorded its busiest ever day, with over six million visits - up 18% on the same Wednesday in 2019.
It says that eager property searchers are starting to act as record levels of buyers phoning and emailing estate agents were also recorded.
The busiest day for time spent on Rightmove was Saturday May 23, with over 47 million minutes spent collectively.
A survey of buyers also found that 28% of people who were not planning to move before lockdown are now entering the market as they look for new opportunities.
The number of sales being agreed by agents is still down 47% on the same time last year, but it has improved significantly on the 90% drop recorded when the market was paused in March.
Reinforcing the idea that buyers are now even more keen to move to coastal or green areas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Cornwall, Devon and Bournemouth have seen the biggest jump in interest from prospective purchasers.
Other popular areas since the market reopened include Warrington, Manchester and Wigan.
Rightmove reports that the Canterbury postcode CT has recorded the highest surge in buyer interest (23%) compared to last year. It’s followed up by Truro (TR) at 20%, Bournemouth (BH) and Stoke-on-Trent (ST) at 17% and Rochester (ME) on 16%.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director and housing market analyst, comments: "Usually we record our busiest days of the year in January and February and almost never when there is warm weather, so the combination of pent-up demand being released, new people entering the market and no half-term holidays during lockdown has led to this late spring boost."
He says that the number of sales agreed is likely to take a while to recover as estate agents and consumers deal with the challenges posed by virtual viewings, health and safety precautions and adhering to social distancing rules.
On the trend of buyers looking for quieter, more scenic areas to live, Shipside says: "Areas with beautiful scenery and a potentially quieter life are proving to be popular as home-movers’ priorities start to shift and outside space becomes more important."
"There are also those considering a move further out now that they’ve realised they can work out of the office and may be finding they can get more for their money in some of the South West and Northern locations."
Estate agent, Blair Stewart, who works as a consultant for Strutt & Parker in South Hams, describes the last two weeks as 'crazy', with interest in the South West from buyers 'off the charts'.
"Much interest has been from London but we've also had interest from Yorkshire and further afield with interested parties even chartering helicopters to make socially distanced viewing possible," he says.
"The interest has extended from second hand homes to empty plots; with some buyers looking to build their own house with a view to relocating their business from the city to the South West as many take stock of their work-life balance."
Stewart says that due to the travel restrictions that are likely to be in place over the coming months, people looking at purchasing abroad are realigning their aspirations to the UK and coastal areas like the South West.
Another agent, Andrew McKnight, who owns MAP Estate Agents in Cornwall, says one fixer-upper cottage his firm launched attracted 40 viewings and 14 offers, eventually selling for well over the asking price.
"I’ve been speaking to a few people who are considering moving further out of cities now that they can work from home more often, so we’ll have to wait to see if this is a short-term trend or a start of a change in buyer behaviour," he says.