The Government has announced a limited lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the last few days in order to get people back to work and kick-start the economy. This has now been extended with the sudden news that the housing market is to be re-opened with immediate effect. This means that estate agents can open their doors, property viewings and surveys can be carried out, removal firms can restart operations, and solicitors can re-open their conveyancing departments.
With Brexit resolved and the election over the UK housing market had begun 2020 with optimism. As political and economic uncertainty eased, prices in the first quarter of the year were up 2.1% on the last three months of 2019, and annual growth was close to 3%. However, the rosy picture changed drastically mid-way through March as the realities of Covid-19 hit the country, resulting in an almost total shut-down of the market by the end of the month. Online property agent Zoopla has estimated that by the end of April over 370,000 property sales were on hold, with a collective value of £82 billion, whilst agreed sales had dropped to a tenth of normal levels for the time of year.
Optimistic reports now predict a surge in activity, as the traditional “spring bounce” catches up with the market and the pent-up demand built during the lockdown is suddenly released. In addition to freeing up property viewings and sales, the government has announced measures to boost activity in the house building sector. This includes allowing more flexible working hours, permitting trades people to work inside homes, speeding up the publication of planning applications, and help with company cash flow.
However, the picture in the housing market may not be all rosy. Some professionals are predicting a squeeze on house prices as purchasers haggle harder to get the best deal. Others fear that job uncertainties will hold purchasers back, and that the economic climate will make mortgages more difficult to get.
In contrast, many more people have now seen the advantages of working from home, with more family contact as well as savings in commuting costs and time giving them an improved work-life balance. Such people may now look for a more practical property which meets their needs better. Others who have spent the last two months in a flat or apartment with little outside space may now want to re-locate to a larger property or somewhere with a garden where they can relax and play.
Whichever way the housing market develops, those directly involved will still have to abide by social distancing measures for many months to come. This will not always be easy, but with all parties aiming for the same outcome, the sale or purchase of the property, common sense and good practice will bring results.
Bretherton Law have been serving the people of Hertfordshire for over 50 years. Our team of experienced Property Lawyers will ensure that whether you are buying or selling, the conveyancing process will run smoothly and professionally. We offer a same day response promise as well as fixed fee quotes. Bretherton Law are accredited under the Lexcel legal practice and the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Schemes. Contact Lucy Madley on 01727 869293 or visit use the contact form below.