Quick sales and renovations bolster UK residential market as number of short-term unoccupied properties spikes

The number of unoccupied properties in the UK spiked by 35 per cent in 2020, according to new research by Quotezone.co.uk. The data shows the highest unoccupied period across 2019 and 2020 was just three-six months, followed by one-three months – accounting for 56 per cent of all insurance premiums surveyed.

The findings show ‘pending sale’ followed by ‘undergoing renovation’ and ‘owner bereavement’ as the top three reasons for unoccupied properties in 2019. 2020 also saw ‘pending sale’ hit the top spot with a 27 per cent increase from 2019 but second place was replaced by ‘owner bereavement’, with ‘undergoing renovation’ staying in the top three but slipping to third. 
This new data from Quotezone.co.uk, is based on a sample of 15,000 unoccupied property insurance policies between January 2019 and December 2020, which revealed a 35 per cent year-on-year jump in unoccupied properties.
The only reason for a property being unoccupied that declined in 2020 was owners who travel and work outside the UK, likely due to Covid-related travel restrictions.
Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, Greg Wilson, says: “There are a number of possible explanations for the spike in unoccupied properties in 2020, but the desire of many UK homeowners to make their home their castle during lockdown is one likely cause, with home renovations continuing to be one of the top three reasons for an unoccupied property.
“The strength of the UK property market is also likely to be having an effect, with the number of homes unoccupied pending a sale jumping by 27 per cent in 2020 as the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday triggered a mini property market boom.
“But whatever the cause, it’s a positive sign that so many homeowners are taking the sensible decision of insuring their property even when it is unoccupied. While some people may assume that things are less likely to go wrong when a home is unoccupied, the truth is that unoccupied properties are actually a higher insurance risk than occupied properties.
“Unoccupied properties are an easy target for vandals or squatters and small issues such as a leak or a patch of rising damp can spread and become much more costly if no one is there to notice and fix the initial damage. Still, insurance costs can be kept competitive by using comparison sites such as ours, to compare unoccupied property insurance quotes from a wide variety of providers – so it doesn’t have to cost the earth to protect your assets and safeguard your finances.”