Data published by Andrews Property Group has revealed that property instructions and viewings in December fell to their lowest levels since May 2020, when the country was coming out of the first COVID-19 lockdown.

The expected rush of buyers trying to secure offers before Christmas, in order to complete before the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March, did not materialise according to the group.

Andrews’ figures, compiled across its 50 offices in the south of England, reveals that instructions fell from 317 in November to 218 in December, down 31%.

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This was the lowest number of instructions since May when estate agents were still closed.

Viewings halved in December with just over 2,600 viewings, physical and virtual, taking place in December compared to close to 5,000 in November.

Only April saw fewer viewings in 2020, when there were just 20 across the entire month. 

David Westgate, group chief executive at Andrews Property Group, said: “At the end of a painfully long and draining year, buyers and sellers took a breather in December.

“Although activity spiked after the second lockdown ended, it tailed off quickly as most of the country was put into the toughest tier levels.

“There was a lot for people to absorb in December with a new virus strain, rising COVID cases, plus the growing prospect of a No Deal Brexit.

“It felt like buyers and sellers just wanted to take the opportunity to have some family time. 

“However, amongst the barrage of bad news, there was still enough positive news to give the industry cause for optimism that 2021 would start with a flourish of market activity. 

“The government rolled out the Pfizer vaccination programme and announced the Oxford vaccine would be administered from early January.

“And at the last minute, the UK-EU agreed a Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve, which lifted the uncertainty and economic turmoil of a No Deal.

“Lockdown 3.0 has temporarily put the brakes on a strong start to the year, however we’re still seeing enough life in the market to feel hopeful there are better times just around the corner.

“And despite the distraction of the stamp duty deadline at the end of March, there’s every chance we could see a larger than normal spring bounce.”