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Published date: 2020/07

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Over the last month, reports have been circulating about an uplift in the housing market. Here, we take a look at some of the factors that have influenced this, including the temporary stamp duty holiday and an increase in homeowners reappraising their homes and post-lockdown lifestyles. 

Stamp duty holiday

A July Rightmove report revealed an increase in both the average asking prices and the number of deals being done this month. The average UK home now costs just over £320,000, up £7,640 or 2.4 per cent on March figures, and represents an annual asking price growth of 3.7 per cent. The same report also showed that buyer enquiries were up 75 per cent in July compared to the same period last year. 

Such movement in the housing market has undoubtedly been boosted by the eight-month stamp duty holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his summer mini-Budget, with no tax to pay on homes prices £500,000 or less until 31 March next year. 

Shifting priorities 

With Matt Hancock stating that he would consider making it mandatory for employers to give the option of remote working, are city dwellers plotting their escape to the country? Lockdown highlighted the difficulties of city living, with data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that one in eight UK households had no access to a garden. Additionally, the figures, based on data from Ordnance Survey and Natural England, showed that 21 per cent of households in London have no access to private or shared gardens.  

As of 16 July, the number of job seekers wanting to get out of the capital had more than doubled (51 per cent) compared with the same period in 2019 (20 per cent), according to careers advisory service, Escape the City. Additionally, a May survey conducted by Savills found that 40 per cent of respondents were now more likely to choose a village location, with one in six prepared for a longer commute to achieve this. 

How is this impacting the construction sector? 

Unsurprisingly, residential housebuilding has seen the most significant rise in demand, with the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index jumping to 55.3 in June, from 28.9 in May, the steepest pace of expansion since July 2018. The PMI construction survey found that 46 per cent of respondents saw an increase in activity, compared to 27 per cent who experienced a reduction. 

The survey also reported that, albeit slower than house building, commercial work and civil engineering activity also entered a period of growth in June, ending three months of decline. According to the construction firm respondents, new work related to infrastructure projects was the key source of this June growth.

While a return to normality is still a long way off for the UK’s construction sector, the upturn in activity following the easing of lockdown rules has revealed the first green shoots of its recovery. The road to restoration is set to be a long one, but the resilience and optimism of the sector’s leaders is evident in 46 per cent of the PMI survey respondents anticipating a further rise in business activity in the coming months. 

Connect with construction talent 

The expert construction specialists at PRS provide talent solutions for all aspects of the sector, whether you’re looking for professionals in Blue Collar Trades & Labour, White Collar & Freelance or Plant Operators. We understand that these are trying times for the whole construction sector, which is why we’re on-hand to support our clients in whatever way we can. To find out more about how we can help your business today by contacting Mark Atkins directly on 07939 979837 or at