• The English housing market now open for business. Government guidance published earlier this month relaxed the lockdown restrictions for house moving in England, starting on 13 May 2020.

    This is welcome news after the lockdown put a stop to thousands of transactions. In fact, research indicates that during the seven-week lockdown period, nearly 400,000 property transactions were put on hold.

    So now the questions is, what impact will COVID-19 have on the English housing market?

    Coronavirus and the impact on the property market

    In the middle of March, the housing market came to a standstill as the lockdown meant that estate agents had to close, and removal companies couldn’t operate.

    Consequently,  every stage of the conveyancing chain was affected. Estate agents couldn’t conduct viewings – meaning people with houses to sell couldn’t sell them, as prospective buyers couldn’t view them.

    Furthermore, people were unable to progress to exchange of contracts for their house sale or purchase as the lockdown meant that the physical move couldn’t proceed.

    At Brachers, we continued to work in the best interests of our clients who fully appreciated the unprecedented times. Whilst it was frustrating that their transaction couldn’t proceed, clients were prepared to sit tight and wait for the lockdown to be lifted.

    The English housing market post-lockdown

    Now that the lockdown has been lifted in England (it remains in place for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), the housing market is open for business. Despite this, social distancing and safety rules must continue to be adhered to for the safety of everybody.

    Those transactions that had already commenced are likely to continue. However, we are finding that buyers are now starting to consider whether the price they were originally paying for the property is still valid.

    The impact on property prices

    There seems no doubt that COVID-19 will have an impact on the English housing market, with property prices likely to be affected. Experts predict a fall from anywhere between 2-15% in the immediate aftermath. However, it will be another couple of weeks before we start to see the real figures.

    Buyers may now find it more difficult to secure a mortgage offer, which may also impact house prices. In addition, many people who were able to proceed with a move a couple of months ago may not be financially able to do so now.

    Furthermore, influenced by the lockdown, what people want from a house may also have changed. For many, lockdown highlighted the importance of closeness to family and loved ones as well as having a garden, amongst other things.

    There has also been a call by property market experts for the Government to help stimulate activity. Suggestions include suspending or overhauling the SDLT (stamp duty) and extending the Help to Buy Scheme.

    We have heard from estate agents who have seen a surge of new enquiries. Now that many offices are reopening, and viewings can commence, there is an optimism in the air. What the rest of the year holds is unknown, but we shall certainly be keeping a close eye on it.

    Get in touch

    At Brachers, we have been able to start moving forward with our clients’ transactions and are on hand to assist with all new enquiries.

    If you need support on buying or selling a house, please get in touch today.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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