Residential Property – will you be ready for the Covid-19 all-clear?

It is hard to put a positive slant on the residential property market during the coronavirus lockdown. Sales had been strong in the first three months of the year, after the uncertainties around Brexit and December’s general election had been resolved. Now the current advice from the government regarding moving house is effectively to avoid doing so if you can, even for those who have exchanged contracts. Restrictions on work and social mobility mean that Estate Agents are barred from carrying out viewings in person. Getting mortgage valuations and surveys will be virtually impossible, and arranging a removal company to commit to a job six weeks later equally difficult. Effectively the housing market is on pause but only for now.

Property Agent Knight Frank estimates that housing transactions will fall from 1.18 million last year to 734,000 as a result of coronavirus, based on an assumption that restrictions will begin to ease in June. Knight Frank also predicts house prices to fall by 3% this year, before bouncing back in 2021 with growth of 5%. Other market experts suggest prices may drop, with potentially half a million property sales being lost over the year.

However, for anyone who still wants or needs to move house once the coronavirus pandemic eases there are still things that owners can do to enhance their property. There are obvious things like decorating and garden maintenance to be done, in order to present the property in the best possible light. If viewers can’t come to you, why not take your property to them with a virtual viewing by video? The quality of most phone cameras is good enough to give a clear and accurate tour of the property, and sellers can emphasise lifestyle features such as conservatories or patio areas which may appeal to viewers.

Another alternative is to use media such as Skype to share a viewing with the property agent. This gives viewers the advantage of being able to ask questions of the agent during the virtual tour, just as they would if they were viewing in person. Using drone footage can enhance the viewing experience even more to offer views from above and around the property, something which would not be possible during a normal viewing in person.

There are currently relatively few restrictions on having work done to your property, provided precautions are properly in place.  So long as only one or two workers are on site at a time, they keep their distance from each other and the home owners, do not share tools, and bring their own food and drink, it is acceptable to have builders working. As well as normal maintenance jobs, having builders at work may add to the value of your property in other ways. With millions more of us currently working from home why not get your spare room converted into a permanent office? Or if you want to offer a self-contained office space, why not get a log cabin put up in the garden? Once the coronavirus episode is over, many more people and businesses will see the advantages of working from home and anyone with a ready-made home office will be in prime position to exploit this new market.

Whatever your approach to selling your house, the important thing is to keep the property on the market in readiness for the big all-clear. With potential buyers having plenty of time on their hands to check out online property listings it is essential that sellers have their property out there. Buyers will already be making lists of properties to go and view, and sellers need to make sure theirs is top of the pile.

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 use the contact form below.