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UK falls behind other European countries for new-build performance

The UK is currently trailing a number of other major European nations when it comes to the delivery of new homes during the pandemic, research from Unlatch reveals.

The new-build sales platform analysed market data on the number of new homes completed during the first year of the pandemic across eight major European nations.

It then looked at how this performance stacks up when considering the population size of each nation to reveal the number of new-build properties delivered for every 100,000 people.


Which country is running the race in new-builds?

The UK new-build sector delivered 175,180 new homes during 2020. This is a substantially higher total than Spain (77,000), the Netherlands (69,000), Belgium (62,700), Italy (49,100) and Portugal (17,300).

However, the UK trailed far behind both Germany and France, where 306,400 and 381,600 new-builds were completed respectfully.

What’s more, when comparing this annual performance to the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019, Portugal sits top, with 20% more new homes built despite the problems posed by the pandemic. 

Spain saw an 8% increase in the number of new homes completed, with Belgium and Germany also seeing a 5% uplift. 

However, the Netherlands (-2%), Italy (-11%), France (-15%) and the UK (-18%) all saw a decline in new-build completions during the first year of the pandemic. 

New-build completions in relation to population size

Unlatch then analysed new-build performance during the pandemic in relation to the population size of each nation. 

France ranks as the new-build hotspot in this respect, with 566 new homes built for every 100,000 people in 2020. Belgium sits second (543), followed by the Netherlands (397) and Germany (368).

At just 261 new homes built for every 100,000 people during 2020, the UK sits in the bottom half of the table, with just Portugal (168), Spain (164) and Italy (82) seeing a lower level of new stock delivered.

Lee Martin, head of UK for Unlatch, comments: “In terms of total volume, the UK new-build market is certainly up there as one of the strongest in Europe, with just two other nations seeing completions exceed the 100,000 mark in what was a very tricky first year of the pandemic.”

“However, when you take population size and the arguably greater need for new homes into account, the UK’s performance doesn’t fair as well when compared to our European counterparts. In France, which is home to a similar population size as the UK, more than double the number of new homes were delivered to market in 2020.”

He adds: “There’s a great deal that’s different about the new homes sector in each county, but there’s also a lot we could stand to learn from each other when it comes to both the construction process itself, as well as the consumer-facing sales process.”


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