New home registrations gain momentum after lockdown slump

30 October 2020

two people walking on site in site safety clothing and hard hats

The number of new homes registered to be built by the UK’s housebuilders in the first three quarters of 2020 is down by 30% on the same period last year, according to figures released today by NHBC.

In the year to date (January to September 2020), 83,359 homes were registered to be built compared to 119,476 in the same period last year.

The biggest impact was seen in the second quarter of 2020 which saw registration levels halve compared to the second quarter of 2019, decreasing from 42,580 to 20,102, as housebuilders felt the full force of lockdown restrictions in the spring.

There were encouraging signs in the third quarter, as builders returned to site and quite quickly got used to Covid-secure working practices. New home completions recovered significantly with 33,440 in the third quarter, just 4% below the same period last year, with this reflecting the strong sales demand that has persisted for new build homes. There were encouraging signs on new home registrations too, notably in September, but at 29,587 they were down by 25% compared to third quarter 2019.

While the third quarter saw falls in registration numbers across several of the UK regions, the North West & Merseyside experienced a 15% increase and London was level with the same period last year with 5,111 registrations in the quarter.

As the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK, NHBC’s registration statistics are a lead indicator of the UK’s new homes market.

Commenting on the latest statistics, NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic delivered a sharp shock to the housing market in the second quarter of 2020, when work on site was halted and new home registrations fell to historically low levels.

“It is encouraging that by early summer housebuilders established Covid-secure operating practices and had moved closer to pre-lockdown productivity levels by the third quarter.

“Housebuilders are facing an unprecedented set of challenges and whilst sales demand has been strong in recent months, there is significant economic uncertainty going into 2021, as the full impact of the pandemic plays out and the UK exits the European Union.

“Despite these headwinds, the house-building industry is adaptable and resilient and the fundamental factors affecting supply and demand point to gradual recovery over the medium term.”

For more information please see accompanying data booklet.