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Property shares crash by up to 12% as Coronavirus spooks investors

Shares in all the UK's leading property companies were battered during the closing hours of trading on Friday as a second death related to the virus was confirmed.

Nigel Lewis


The share prices of every property industry company listed on the London stock exchange endured an unprecedented battering during the closing hours of Friday’s trading as the Coronavirus continues to spook stock markets around the world.

Some companies fared better than others but, except for OnTheMarket, all the other corporates listed on the main and AIM London stock exchanges dropped by between 2.5 and nearly 12 percent.

Foxtons, who as a London-only estate agency with many foreign customers is particularly exposed to a slowdown in the global economy and a drop in international travel, dropped the most at 11.61%.

But Purplebricks (-6.89%), Hunters (-4.80%), Belvoir (-4.73%) and  Countrywide (-3.89%) also saw significant drops.

Both institutional and private investors are worried that a serious outbreak of Coronavirus would see the housing market come to a standstill.

Buyers, sellers, agents and tenants are all likely to stay away from viewings in significant numbers if the level of reported cases, and deaths, in the UK were to escalate.

On Sunday it was confirmed that 206 people have now tested positive for Coronavirus in the UK and that a second death linked to the virus has been confirmed.

Many estate agents are worried that the recent upturn in the sales market after so many years of Brexit-related doldrums in many parts of the UK may be stalled by the pandemic.

“As more recent figures have shown, we began to see an upward turn towards the end of the year, and so far this has continued into Q1 2020 with buyers and vendors coming back into the market in strength,” says John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages (left).

“The fly in the ointment now is the coronavirus. People’s health is the number one priority but we also need to minimise disruption to everyday life as this could have serious knock-on effects for people’s livelihoods in all walks of life. There’s a real risk it will stop the recovery its tracks.”

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March 9, 2020

One comment

  1. Covid-19, like any disaster exposes those businesses that are not built on solid financial foundations, and many in the real estate sector fit that category. For me the real estate industry which I love and care deeply about, (yes I am critical but I know how hard it is to work in the business having done so for over three decades), is in need of help.

    Brexit and the intransigence of MP’s to vote through the Nation’s will – has cost many agents dearly, their cash flow has been hit, and apart from a 6-week recent window, there has been a hail of relentless blows hammering agents.

    The nation is approaching lock down, the sad thing is that essentially agency is a people business, but without their interaction, viewings etc, there will be fewer transactions. Now perhaps companies will view the digital transformation of their very archaic, and legacy based model businesses in another light, more tech less people.

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