Week after week we’ve been repeatedly told by the UK government that life as we know it will not be the same post-lockdown.
Some activities will be restricted and others stopped altogether until a vaccine or similar has been found for Covid-19. So, what about the UK property market? How does it look as it emerges from its enforced shut-down (or two-month-long slumber?).
Interest in house buying is increasing
As the prospect of the lifting of lockdown gets ever-nearer prospective house buyers, keen to get in first, are already registering interest with estate agents. Rightmove reports a 20 per cent increase in website visitors in April.
But what about house prices? Land Registry statistics only go up as far as the end of February. At that time, prices had increased by 1.1 per cent year-on-year. This annual comparison though is irrelevant when it comes to the previous two months. Then again, it may be that house prices will remain the same – certainly if a similar amount of interest and movement returns then there is no reason why they can’t be. There may be a few months of turmoil as the property market starts to right itself again but, happily, experts are predicting this will be short-lived.
What will house viewings involve?
Well, you can bet there will be an end to group viewings in the foreseeable future. And, in fact, many viewings may even be virtual (initially, at least). This means buyers looking at a house via a pre-recorded video or a live walk-through. It has already been happening throughout the lockdown and will no doubt continue until face-to-face viewings are permitted. One interesting caveat is the Property Ombudsman – quite rightly in our opinion – has insisted that any offers made on property during lockdown are subject to the buyer visiting the house or apartment in person afterwards.
What will lending be like after restrictions are lifted?
A good question – and one that is not easily answered – is will the lending situation have changed. Lenders have already been ordered to provide mortgage owners with a three-month payment holiday in light of disruptions caused by Covid-19.
Deferring interest payments, extending the mortgage period and even changing the type of mortgage they hold are all short-term solutions that current homeowners may find themselves looking at very soon.
Will the supply of new homes have dried up?
Construction companies in England and Wales will be amongst the first sector to return to work. Certainly, big names such as Redrow and Taylor Wimpey predict building will begin again as soon as next week. Many experts are urging the government to extend the Help to Buy Scheme which is due to end in 2023, others have gone as far as to suggest that they should suspend stamp duty for all property investors (not just first-time buyers looking at property under a certain amount).
Overall, here at Griffin Residential we are reasonably optimistic that all will be well again – or at least, nowhere near the same struggle there was following the 2008 recession. And that’s mainly because of the government’s furloughing practice. It’s kept many people in work and proved a lifeline to businesses. And if there is one thing that is sure to buoy up the property market it is plenty of employment, together with reasonable house prices and good mortgage availability. To date we know we have two out of those three at least…
Get in touch!
If you plan on buying or selling (perhaps, both) a property in the near future then do get in touch with the team here at Griffin Residential. Tel: 0345 561 0050 or write to us via email on our website Griffin-residential.co.uk