The number of new-build homes registered to be constructed across the UK fell by 23% annually in 2020 to reach an eight-year low, according to industry figures.
Some 123,151 new homes were registered in 2020, compared with 160,319 in 2019, according to the National House Building Council (NHBC) a warranty and insurance provider.
It was the lowest annual total since 104,922 new-builds were registered in 2012.
Homes are registered with the NHBC, which has a 70% to 80% share of the market, before work is started. This means that the figures are an indication of new housing supply in the pipeline.
New registrations plunged by 53% annually in the second quarter of last year, during the initial coronavirus lockdown, as on-site work halted.
But, by the fourth quarter of 2020, registrations were down just 2% compared with the same quarter in 2019.
The NHBC said housebuilding 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 three months, which was 34% up on the third quarter.
The numbers of new home registrations fell in every UK region in 2020, with the South East of England (down by 28%), Scotland (also a 28% fall) and Northern Ireland (down 38%) seeing the most significant falls.
In London, registrations were down by 21%.
In what may be seen as part of the recent trend of people looking to live in villages and smaller towns, several UK cities recorded bigger falls in new home registrations than the falls in their wider regions.
For example, new home registrations in Manchester were down by 42% annually, but in the North West England region the decline was less severe, at 27%.
In Bristol, registrations were down 34%, but in the wider South West they fell by 14%.
In Newcastle, registrations fell by 32%, in Birmingham they were down by 51%, and in Leeds they were down by 28%, which were all faster rates than the average for those regions.
London and Glasgow were the only major cities in the NHBC’s study which were found to buck the trend.
In London, registrations were down by 21%, compared with 28% in the South East, while in Glasgow they fell by 24%, compared with 28% across Scotland.
Across the UK, new home registrations in the private sector fell by 26% last year, while those in the affordable and build-to-rent sector recorded a 16% annual decrease.
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.”
Here are the numbers of new home registrations in 2020 and the percentage change compared with 2019, according to the NHBC:
– North East, 4,288, minus 26%
– North West, 11,479, minus 27%
– Yorkshire and the Humber, 8,082, minus 18%
– West Midlands, 11,551, minus 25%
– East Midlands, 11,450, minus 11%
– Eastern England, 14,411, minus 25%
– South West, 10,904, minus 14%
– London, 17,013, minus 21%
– South East, 18,347, minus 28%
– Scotland, 8,814, minus 28%
– Wales, 3,933, minus 17%
– Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, 2,879, minus 38%