New home registrations
© David Calvert

Covid-19 caused the number of new homes registrations by UK housebuilders to plunge by 23% in 2020, according to the NHBC

NHBC logged a total of 123,151 new homes registrations in 2020, compared to 160,319 in 2019. The largest falls were seen in the second quarter of 2020 as the initial lockdown halted work on site.

Housebuilding activity rebounded quickly after builders established Covid-secure working practices in the summer, with a total of 39,749 new homes being registered in the final quarter, 34% up on the third quarter.

The numbers of new home registrations fell in every UK region in 2020, with the South East of England (-28%), Scotland (-28%) and Northern Ireland (-38%) seeing the most significant falls, whilst London was down 21%.

The data indicates that many UK cities saw greater falls in new home registrations than their wider regions with, for example, Manchester dropping 42% in 2020 versus 2019, compared with just 27% in the whole of the North West. London and Glasgow were the only major cities to buck this trend.

New home registrations in the private sector fell by 26% to 81,067, with the affordable and build to rent sector seeing a more limited fall of 16% to 42,084, compared to the previous year. This is encouraging, reflecting the continued long-term attractiveness of UK housing as an asset class for inward investment.

Productivity moved close to pre-pandemic levels in the final quarter of the year with new home registrations down just 2% on the same period in 2019.

‘Confidence in the housing market remains strong’

Commenting on the 2020 new home registration statistics, NHBC chief executive Steve Wood, said: “Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new build housing market has held up very well, with housebuilders showing resilience and adaptability throughout 2020.

“Last Spring saw a sharp shock to the housing market and it is heartening that by the close of 2020, productivity levels had moved very close to those seen in late 2019.

“Confidence in the housing market, particularly for newly-built homes, remains strong with many larger housebuilders forward sold into the summer despite the continued impact of the pandemic and prevailing economic uncertainties.”

As the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK, with c.70-80% market share, NHBC’s registration statistics are a lead indicator of UK’s new homes market.

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