After stalling in the spring, productivity moved close to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of the year with new home registrations down just 2% on the same period in 2019.

NHBC (the National House Building Council), which claims to have a 70-80% share of the new-build warranty market, registered a total of 123,151 new homes 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. House-building 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 with NHBC fell in every UK region in 2020, with the southeast of England (-28%), Scotland (-28%) and Northern Ireland (-38%) seeing the steepest falls, while London was down 21%. The data indicates that larger cities saw greater falls in new home registrations than their wider regions with. For example, while NHBC registrations fell 27% across the northwest in 2020, in Manchester they fell 42%. 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 2019.

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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.”

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