UK trails other European countries for new-build delivery


The latest research by the new-build sales optimisation platform, Unlatch, has found that the UK trails a number of other major European nations when it comes to the delivery of new homes during the pandemic, with France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany building more in relation to their respective population sizes.

Unlatch analysed market data on the number of new homes completed during the first year of the pandemic across eight major European nations. They then looked at how this performance stacks up when considering the population size of each nation to reveal the number of new-build properties delivered for every 100,000 people. 

European new-build performance

During 2020, the UK new-build sector delivered a respectable 175,180 new homes to market, a substantially higher total than Spain (77,500), the Netherlands (69,300), Belgium (62,700), Italy (49,100) and Portugal (17,300). 

However, the UK trailed far behind both Germany where 306,400 new homes were built and France, with a huge 381,600 new-builds completed in a single year. 

When comparing this annual performance to the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019, Portugal sits top, with 20% more new homes built despite the problems posed by the pandemic. 

Spain saw an 8% increase in the number of new homes completed, with Belgium and Germany also seeing a 5% uplift. 

However, the Netherlands (-2%), Italy (-11%), France (-15%) and the UK (-18%) all saw a decline in new-build completions during the first year of the pandemic. 

New-build completions in relation to population size

Unlatch then analysed new-build performance during the pandemic (2020) in relation to the population size of each nation. 

France ranks as the new-build hotspot in this respect, with 566 new homes built for every 100,000 people in 2020. Belgium sits second (543), followed by the Netherlands (397) and Germany (368).

At just 261 new homes built for every 100,000 people during 2020, the UK sits in the bottom half of the table, with just Portugal (168), Spain (164) and Italy (82) seeing a lower level of new stock delivered.

Lee Martin, Head of UK for Unlatch says:

“In terms of total volume, the UK new-build market is certainly up there as one of the strongest in Europe with just two other nations seeing completions exceed the 100,000 mark in what was a very tricky first year of the pandemic. 

However, when you take population size and the arguably greater need for new homes into account, the UK’s performance doesn’t fair as well when compared to our European counterparts. In France, which is home to a similar population size as the UK, more than double the number of new homes were delivered to market in 2020.

There’s a great deal that’s different about the new homes sector in each county, but there’s also a lot we could stand to learn from each other when it comes to both the construction process itself, as well as the consumer facing sales process.”

Data on UK new-build completions sourced from ,, and on European new-build completions sourced from World Bank


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BDC 318 : Jul 2024