Spike in lockdown divorces set to drive-up property sales by over £9bn

Property Reporter
12th June 2020
divorced fingers

It is a well known fact that death and divorce are a house hunters best friend. Both are inevitable in life, but sadly, due to the ongoing crisis, both are seeing an increase.

Newly released figures from Co-op Legal Services have revealed that there has been a spike in the number of couples filing for a divorce during the current lockdown. The firm has reported a 42% increase in divorce inquiries between 23 March and mid-May, compared with the same period in 2019.

Data on divorces in England and Wales shows there are some 91,299 divorces on an annual basis and should this trend continue, that’s an additional 38,346 couples who could be calling it a day in 2020.

What could this mean for the property market?

Research from estate agent Barrows and Forrester shows that even with a prolonged period of Brexit uncertainty, just over one million property sales transacted in 2019. While this number is likely to be far lower in 2020 due to the national lockdown, the market could see a boost of 38,346 homes entering the market if these additional divorces lead to the inevitable sale of the family home.

While this is bad news for those filing for divorce, it would help boost property stock in a market that has seen a huge uplift in buyer demand since the industry lockdown was lifted in May.

With the current average house price sat at £243,809, the addition of divorce property stock hitting the market could equate to a total value of £9,349,099,914 in transactions for the nation’s property market.

James Forrester, Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, commented: “Unfortunately, divorce is an inevitable aspect of modern-day life and one that has been exacerbated as a result of a lengthy lockdown at home with our significant other. It’s also one of three influences that regularly see properties come to market, along with death and debt, as couples look to divvy up their existing assets in order to move on in life.

"Of course, not all married couples will own their home and not all of them will opt to sell it on, with some using it as collateral within the divorce proceedings. However, many will take this route and with such a notable spike in the number of divorces, it’s very likely we will see a boost in the amount of stock reaching the market, and the value of homes sold.

"The one positive of this is that we’ve seen a huge uplift in buyer demand since the property industry reopened last month but a continued hesitance by some sellers to list and this stock boost should help meet this demand while helping keep house prices buoyant.”

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