The number of people moving house dropped by almost a third in the first six months of this year as the Covid-19 pandemic brought the property market to a standstill for seven weeks in spring.

Almost 50,000 fewer people moved house in the first half of 2020 than in the same period of the year before – the fourth consecutive annual fall in this sector of the market and the biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis.

This follows years of declining home moves even pre-Covid as moving costs and stamp duty hikes for homes sold in higher price brackets put people off moving home.

In 2010 buyers moving up the ladder made up 62 per cent of the housing market. Now home movers account for 48 per cent of buyers, lower than the number of first-time buyers for the third year running.

However, Lloyds Bank said the drop was less severe than expected in the wake of coronavirus lockdown and pointed at signs of an uptick in activity since restrictions were eased.

“While a drop in homemovers by a third is a significant decline, and the largest drop we’ve seen in the UK since 2009, some may have predicted this figure to have been even lower, demonstrating the resilience of the UK housing market,” said Jo Harris, managing director at Lloyds Bank.

“The current Stamp Duty holiday and pent up demand has brightened the housing market outlook once again. While uncertainty around the lasting impact of the pandemic remains, at least for now the house market looks buoyant, with many people planning their next move after months spent at home during lockdown.”

While all regions saw the number of people moving house fall in the first half of 2020 London saw the smallest drop with 25 per cent fewer homemovers, even though it remains the most expensive region in the country. The average house price in the capital is £658,450, with buyers paying an average deposit of £206,000, or 31 per cent of the purchase price.

Despite this, the region has the youngest home movers at 37 years old, compared with a national average of 39. In 2010 the average age of a home mover was 42, Lloyds said.

It was also the only region where the majority of people moved into a terraced house or a flat, rather than a detached or semi-detached house, which accounted for almost two thirds of sales elsewhere in the country.

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