How can you sell or buy a house during the coronavirus epidemic?
- Those wishing to sell their homes will need to ensure that they are out of their property during visits and that buyers and sellers should expect to delay relocations if someone involved obtains Covid-19.
- They shouldn’t expect to move into a house where people have coronavirus or self-isolate
- Government directives indicate that more of the process will take place online and that some – or all – of the movements may have to be stopped to limit the spread of the coronavirus
Desperate sellers are dropping home prices after a glut of property flooded websites today as the UK housing market was reopened in an attempt to restart the country during the foreclosure.
About 2,150 properties have been added to RightMove in England, Wales and Scotland in the past 24 hours – a huge increase over the past few days – while Robert Jenrick has lifted the move ban – while many properties are now reduced in order to move them quickly.
Prices are falling now, with examples today, including a three-bedroom townhouse in Tottenham reduced from £ 410,000 to £ 385,000 today, and a one-bedroom apartment in Tooting, from £ 450,000 to 395 £ 000.
At the upper end of the market, a two-bedroom apartment in Marylebone has been reduced from £ 5.25 million to £ 4.95 million today, while a three-bedroom penthouse in Knightsbridge has moved on from £ 3 million to £ 2.7 million.
Meanwhile, the six-bedroom individual properties in Bournemouth and Plymouth have been reduced from £ 825,000 to £ 725,000 and from £ 550,000 to £ 500,000 respectively.
The Bank of England has predicted that prices will drop 16% this year and UK investigators report that thousands of trades have failed since the market closed on March 26 as sellers retreated into economic uncertainty.
More than 450,000 buyers and tenants have been unable to move forward with their move since March.
Now house hunters now have to wear masks and gloves for visits, while some vendors refuse to let lingering fears about the coronavirus go.
Those wishing to sell their homes will need to ensure that they are out of their property during visits and that buyers and sellers should expect to delay relocations if someone involved obtains Covid-19.
Housing Minister Jenrick and other ministers hope that the current reopening of the housing market will significantly boost the economy during a pandemic.
RightMove saw a 45% increase in website visits this morning compared to yesterday morning, with its housing market expert, Miles Shipside, who said, “Movers and real estate agents may be facing the biggest change in the way homes are marketed, viewed and surveyed.
This six-bedroom detached house in Plymouth was reduced from £ 550,000 on March 25 to £ 500,000 today
This six-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth was reduced from £ 825,000 on March 18 to £ 725,000 today
Home prices are now down, with examples today, including a one-bedroom apartment in Tooting, south London, down from £ 450,000 to £ 395,000
At the upper end of the market, a two-bedroom apartment in Marylebone has been reduced from £ 5.25 million to £ 4.95 million today
A three-bedroom penthouse in this building in Knightsbridge, London has grown from £ 3 million to £ 2.7 million today
This three-bedroom terraced house in Tottenham, north London, has grown from £ 410,000 to £ 385,000 today
“We have withdrawn and will not move now”
James Staunton, 42, with Charles, 3
James Staunton, 42, lives with his wife and two children in Farnham, Surrey and decided to withdraw from his move as the lockout began.
“We had to buy a larger property closer to the children’s school, although in the same city. But we feared that my earnings would be cut during an economic downturn and that my wife’s hours would be reduced.
“It turned out to be fairly prescient and we are now happy that we have not overworked ourselves. In fact, we used part of the war chest we had accumulated for the move to pay off 10% of the mortgage on our current property.
“It made the monthly payments much easier to bear. We have withdrawn and are satisfied with this decision. “
“We were asked to wear masks and gloves”
Alex Hammond, 39, and owner of his own firm Also Communications, was offered a visit this Friday.
Alex Hammond, 39
He and his wife are looking to buy an investment property in Hastings.
“We received details of the one we liked the look on Monday and expressed interest.
“At first they said we couldn’t do a physical inspection, but the real estate agent contacted me last night to suggest a visit on Friday.
“We can’t do it on Friday, so we’re going to see the property on Monday. We were asked to wear masks and gloves for viewing. “
Among the properties added in recent hours is a lavish 24.5 million pound four-bedroom apartment in London’s exclusive Mayfair Park Residences development.
How to visualize in the age of locking
Real estate agents ask potential buyers or tenants to wear protective masks and gloves when visiting a property in the era of the coronavirus shutdown.
Knight Frank said it is best if the owners are outside the property during any visit – but if they want to stay, social distance must be respected.
And real estate agents James Pendleton said he had “all the personal protective equipment you need right out of the box,” buyers and sellers want to start looking at them now.
Other properties have just been added in the capital, including a 2.8-bedroom twin house for 2.8 million pounds in Chiswick and a three-bedroom apartment in Hampstead for 1.9 million pounds .
Estate agents across Britain have been informed that they can now reopen immediately, although they are encouraged to make more use of “virtual tours” online.
The dismissed men were also told that they could return to work because they were given new instructions on safe working, including wearing masks and gloves.
And, in an effort to revive the broader housing market, councils will be encouraged to let construction companies extend their working hours until 9 p.m., six days a week.
This will be to allow for the timing of change and greater social distancing. Exhibition houses will also be allowed to reopen.
The package is expected to free around 450,000 buyers and tenants whose moves have been in limbo since the market closed in March.
British economy contracted 2% in the first quarter of 2020 after plunging 5.8% in March
A three-bedroom semi-detached house in Wanstead, in east London, has been on the market in the past 24 hours for £ 800,000 as a glut of homes is dumped on property websites.
A two-bedroom terraced house in Abbey Wood, south-east London, has also risen in the past 24 hours for £ 350,000 as the government reopened the housing market during the foreclosure.
A three-bedroom end of terrace in Grove Park, south-east London, has risen in the past 24 hours for £ 475,000
Alistair Elliott, senior partner at Knight Frank, spoke this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on how real estate agents can return to work.
“I am determined to go ahead with this purchase”
Joanne Robinson, 40
Joanne Robinson, 40, is a real estate lawyer who rents in London and bought property in Amersham to get closer to her work in Beaconsfield.
Before the housing market freeze, she had closed a sale but had not exchanged contracts.
However, she managed to trade on April 28 and now has a moving date set for May 29.
She said, “Despite all of these disruptions, I am absolutely determined to continue this purchase and get things done.
“Moving from central London to Amersham is crucial to my job and the house I bought is absolutely perfect for my needs. Keeping a close dialogue with the current owner helps keep things alive and kicking.
She also managed to get a moving company and says it will be a relief once she is in her new home.
The house was initially sold at £ 260,000, then reduced to £ 250,000 in December – and cost £ 247,000 in February.
The seller then agreed to a further reduction of £ 2,000 because his tenant did not vacate his accommodation once the notice was served due to Covid-19.
Ms. Robinson said, “It caused me additional logistics costs which she agreed to halve with me, which does not really reflect market confidence.
“I am a lawyer specializing in real estate law and I worked throughout the pandemic. There have been very few price renegotiations, I would say less than 2% of my pipeline, and they have been more geared towards people’s personal perception of risk, such as how they think they might be affected after locking. ”
He said, “Well, eight weeks of foreclosure has taught us a lot, the most important lesson of all is that we cannot sell or rent homes under these circumstances.
“Consequently, the lifting of the ban on visits and assessments for the residential sector is a major first step and our customers can now visit our branches to rent or buy a property while respecting social distancing measures.
“We are implementing business plans that were developed during the shutdown period to fit all of our premises, keep them clean, keep them safe. Guarantee the safety of our teams and our customers above all.
“And that being the case, we think the public will have confidence to re-engage with the housing market and the huge change that has happened in the stopping market will hopefully be quickly reversed . “
Asked about the operation, he added: “We hope that our teams will be able to visit the premises. We will give people whose homes we visit clear directions on what we think they should do. It would be better if they weren’t on the property.
“If they feel they should be on the property, social distance will be respected at all times.
“Likewise, for these potential buyers and tenants, we will advise them on the protocols that will need to be in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Noting above all that the government’s guidelines will be followed at each stage of the process in terms of social distancing. “
He added that real estate agents will have to ask someone if they have had a coronavirus or symptoms of it, saying, “We just have to ask.
“It will be part of our policy, indeed, it is already part of our policy that anyone who contacts us and requests any contact.
“They will need to inform us of any symptoms they may have and if there are symptoms, we will not be able to progress at this time until they have completed the appropriate isolation period. “
Land surveyor Steve Nygate, who has cycled to Dog Island from his home in Hackney today, told MailOnline that he did not know how the lockout facilitation would be implemented on work place.
He said: “It is difficult because we are in unknown territory every day when it comes to coronavirus. I went to the government website and read that people were still not allowed to enter other households
Among the properties added in the last 24 hours to RightMove is a sumptuous four-bedroom, £ 24.5 million apartment in London’s exclusive Mayfair Park Residences development.
Another property just added is a 2.8 million pound 2.8 bedroom semi-detached house in Chiswick
Three-bedroom apartment in Hampstead, north-west London, just increased for £ 1.9 million
A 40% share in a one-bedroom apartment in Queensbury, north London, is £ 132,000
“Then I read that real estate agents can reopen with authorized visits and I am very confused. I do not know how it will work in terms of investigating if there are still people on the properties and how officers will resume visits.
A week of foreclosure inflicted the biggest economic blow ever recorded in the United Kingdom: GDP fell by a record 5.8% in March – the largest decline ever recorded – and analysts expect a worse
The British economy contracted 2% in the first quarter of 2020 after plunging 5.8% in March – the largest decline ever recorded – while analysts expect much worse.
The fall in the first quarter was the worst since the end of 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, while the monthly decline in March marked a record drop.
The latest figures – from the Office of National Statistics – show the first direct effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the British economy after the country was locked in to control the spread of the virus.
But with the lock-in that won’t take effect until March 23, the second quarter will show the economic blow after the UK freezes.
The shocking figures come just a day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the job subsidy program until the end of October and said the UK was already in recession.
Jonathan Athow, assistant national statistician for economic statistics at the Office of National Statistics (ONS), told the BBC Today program that there could be worse in the second quarter.
Jenrick told the Mail, “The housing market is one of the most important sectors of the economy and the ability to move is also important to people’s lives.
“It has been completely frozen, but we have worked hard on a global plan to make it safe and we are now able to allow a complete reopening of the housing market. “
The move came when Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted Britain was already in recession, with new GDP showing today that the economy started to contract in the first three months of this year, before even that the full impact of the blockade had struck.
And there was a new blow, the Secretary of Health, Matt Hancock, warned that it was unlikely that people could take a vacation abroad this summer.
The ministers effectively closed the housing market on March 26, with an amendment to the law that prohibited moves, except when it was “reasonably necessary”.
Politicians have said that, except in exceptional circumstances, only those whose proceedings are already underway can complete their proceedings.
Those who had already traded contracts were asked to postpone their completion dates. And the tenants were invited to stay on site even if their rental contract was exhausted.
The British Association of Movers has urged moving companies to cancel or postpone “any move that has not yet started”. The crackdown saw the market close overnight.
But with ministers now concerned with reviving the economy and construction companies warning that there is no point in building houses that no one can buy, the ban is now over.
Real estate agents are asked to see clients by appointment rather than allowing people to get out of the street and make sure that social distancing measures are in place.
They will be encouraged to use “virtual visualizations” where possible, although physical visualizations are also allowed.
“I want to move to be close to my children and my grandson”
Poppy Low, 72
Poppy Low, 72, retired, lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
With a son living in London with her grandson and another based in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, she hopes to move for six months so that she can be closer to her family. Lockdown prevented her from putting her house on the market earlier this year.
She said, “I feel much more optimistic about things now that the government has said we can move, although I am still a little worried about housing prices.
“I have been on Rightmove almost every day during the lockdown, but there are no new properties and also – how am I supposed to know if the prices they were asking before the lockdown are still fair?”
“It’s really hard to know what to do.”
Poppy hopes to come down to stay a week with her son Sean and partner Tim in Chipping Norton so that she can see the properties.
“I really want to crack this decision – I want to be closer to my family in the south of England and spend precious time with my grandson. But I have to say, it’s still a little confusing. Especially with my age – I don’t know if I should still isolate myself?
Poppy has already been in touch with her real estate agent and has been told that she can take virtual tours of properties that she may want to buy.
“It is something, but it is not really enough if I want to buy a house – I really need to have gone around. “
The owners will be asked to leave the house or to stand in the garden during the visits, and guests should avoid touching the surfaces.
Jenrick said the ministers recognized the need to restart the housing market for economic and social reasons, adding, “Thousands have been left in limbo. They can go on with their lives.
“Almost no moves have taken place in the past two months and people have to move for all kinds of reasons such as work, proximity to elderly parents or because of changes like divorce.”
The Prime Minister this week urged the construction industry to get to work.
But industry leaders have warned ministers that the homebuilding sector will not reopen until the housing market remains closed.
A new “safe work charter” has now been agreed with industry to help get builders back to work.
In addition, boards will be required to review applications for construction sites until 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday to allow for staggered shifts.
City halls will have to show “compelling reasons” to refuse requests. However, construction companies will be asked to perform noisy activities during “normal working hours”.
However, the decision to reopen the housing market has infuriated MailOnline columnist Piers Morgan, who said today on his ITV show Good Morning Britain: “It seems so absurd.
“I can book 50 different meetings today to see 50 houses full of families at random. If I wanted to buy a house quickly, technically I could go do it.
“I could spend the whole day touring 50 different houses, with different real estate agents and 50 different families who maintain social distance in the houses.
“And yet what I cannot do, if my parents sell theirs, I cannot go around their house because it is against the law and I will be fined. “
Also today, two of Britain’s largest automakers have announced plans to re-arm.
Crest Nicholson has said it will resume construction of its sites starting next Monday after similar steps have been taken by rivals to do the same.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured at # 10 on May 6) said the market is now reopened
It will give the company enough time to properly train staff and make security adjustments to the closed sites since early April.
Estate agent predicts home prices down 7% – but Bank of England plans down 16%
Housing prices are expected to drop 7% this year, according to a leading real estate agent.
Property values should have already dropped 5% since the start of the coronavirus crisis, as the market stops, according to revised Knight Frank forecasts.
But its expected decline is considerably lower than the Bank of England’s forecast last week that house prices in Britain would drop 16% due to the coronavirus crisis.
Since the government announced that Britain will not fully exit the lockout until the end of July at the earliest, Knight Frank is now predicting a bigger collapse than he thought in early April, when he assumed that the restrictions would be lifted in late May.
It has now seen a drop of 7% across the country, compared to a previous drop of 3%, and a drop of 5% in the main locations in London, where it had not initially planned any change, since they are already 20 % lower than in 2014.
Taylor Wimpey, who has already restarted construction, said his showrooms and sales centers would start reopening starting next Friday.
Customers will be able to pre-book appointments, said the automaker. Construction has already resumed on most of its sites in England and Wales.
About 82 billion pounds of transactions are said to be pending on the property market.
Taylor Wimpey said his sales rates have remained stable since he announced plans to resume construction three weeks ago. There have been signs of increased activity in the past week.
It sold 408 homes during the shutdown period and has an order book worth around £ 2.7 billion.
Most of its sales staff on leave will be recalled by May 18, with the majority of other workers on leave before the end of the month.
Parmi ceux sur Twitter commentant le retour du marché du logement, un homme a déclaré: « J’ai mis un appartement sur le marché pour lever des fonds – 190.000 £, sur le point d’échanger et le verrouillage est entré.
« Maintenant, le gars offre £ 175 000 et l’agent immobilier dit de le prendre comme qui sait ce qui va bouger sur le marché pour les six à 12 prochains mois. “
Un autre a écrit: «L’autre moitié nous a déjà réservé pour des visites de maisons. Je ne suis pas trop à l’aise avec ça, mais je serai aussi en sécurité que possible.
«Je pense que nous regardons les vides de toute façon. L’agent immobilier nous a demandé de porter des masques.
Et un troisième a déclaré: «J’ai ma maison sur le marché et, bien entendu, aucune visite n’est autorisée. Cependant, je vois à nouveau le marché du logement ouvert aux affaires.
«Autant que je veux continuer, je ne le ferai pas. Je ne peux pas voir ma fille et mon petit-fils ensemble, mais je peux laisser des étrangers entrer dans ma maison. Cela n’a aucun sens.’
D’autres ont plaisanté en disant qu’ils mettraient leur maison sur le marché juste pour que leurs enfants ou petits-enfants puissent venir leur rendre visite.
L’un d’eux a déclaré: «Problème résolu. Si ma mère met sa maison en vente, tous ses enfants et petits-enfants peuvent réserver une visite et aller la voir.
Lucy Pendleton, expert immobilier chez les agents immobiliers James Pendleton, a déclaré: «C’est un nouveau monde courageux, mais les visites doivent continuer. Nous avons tous les EPI nécessaires prêts à l’emploi, et les acheteurs et les vendeurs désireux de commencer à regarder immédiatement. Nous attendons simplement de connaître les lignes directrices détaillées du gouvernement.
VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Nous avons besoin d’un meilleur plan pour sortir le marché immobilier de l’immobilisation
Qui voudrait être acheteur ou vendeur d’une maison en ce moment?
Des centaines de milliers de familles sont restées dans les limbes depuis que le marché immobilier a été gelé fin mars.
Seuls ceux qui risquaient de perdre de grosses sommes d’argent s’ils renonçaient à leurs contrats et ceux qui emménageaient dans des propriétés vides ont été autorisés à avancer. Mais maintenant, les acheteurs et les vendeurs contraints de mettre leurs plans sur la glace veulent des réponses.
Beaucoup ont des familles qui s’agrandissent et ont désespérément besoin de plus d’espace, certains déménagent pour travailler ou sont de nouveaux acheteurs dont les factures de loyer supplémentaires se nourrissent dans leur dépôt.
Il ne fait aucun doute qu’ils ont été amèrement déçus de ne même pas entendre un murmure sur la manière dont nous pourrions lancer le marché du logement dans le plan de sortie du gouvernement annoncé lundi.
La bonne nouvelle est que les ministres prennent enfin conscience qu’ils doivent agir.
Et, comme nous le rapportons aujourd’hui, avec une certaine distanciation sociale, nous pourrions facilement faire bouger les gens à nouveau – même si cela signifie porter un masque et des gants pour voir une maison.
Certains agents immobiliers tentent de maintenir le marché en vie en offrant des visites virtuelles. Mais la plupart d’entre nous ne penseraient même pas à acheter une propriété sans la voir en personne.
Surtout, nous avons besoin que les évaluations physiques reprennent afin de résorber un vaste arriéré de demandes de prêts hypothécaires. Et les entreprises de déménagement doivent être convaincues qu’elles peuvent faire passer les gens de A à B en toute sécurité.
En mars, les banques se sont engagées à prolonger les offres hypothécaires d’au moins trois mois. Peut-être que davantage devraient suivre les traces de Barclays et du BST et étendre les offres pour six mois.
Étant donné l’importance du marché du logement de 7 billions de livres sterling pour l’économie britannique, le maintenir en vie doit être une priorité.
«Les agents avaient désespérément envie de reprendre les affaires, et une mention explicite pour le secteur dans la stratégie de verrouillage du gouvernement lundi était perceptible par son absence.
«On pouvait presque entendre le soupir collectif de soulagement quand la nouvelle que les agents pouvaient se remettre au travail s’est répandue tard hier après-midi.
« C’est une excellente nouvelle que les agents n’aient pas à attendre jusqu’en juillet pour recommencer à montrer correctement leurs propriétés, car nous saurons plus tôt que tard si certaines des prévisions les plus désastreuses pour le marché du logement se réaliseront. A Londres, nous n’avons vu absolument aucun signe des conditions qui devraient normalement précipiter une baisse marquée des prix. Nous nous attendons à ce qu’une image similaire se joue à travers le pays.
«Le manque d’approvisionnement exacerbé par le fait que les vendeurs retardent leurs mouvements jusqu’à ce que la pandémie se soit considérablement atténuée va mettre un plancher sous les prix, tout comme lors des négociations sur le Brexit. Les taux d’emprunt sont également extrêmement bas et cela va augmenter le pouvoir d’achat. “
Et David Westgate, PDG d’Andrews Property Group, a déclaré: « Le déménagement est un processus très émotif et la renaissance du marché immobilier mercredi aidera à stimuler l’esprit du pays.
«Le respect de l’éloignement social et des normes de sécurité les plus élevées sera absolument primordial et toutes les précautions seront prises pour protéger les personnes visitant les biens, notamment en utilisant des équipements de protection individuelle, le cas échéant.
«Les opinions divergent sur la façon dont le marché immobilier se formera à mesure que le verrouillage sera progressivement assoupli, mais nous nous attendons à voir une activité importante aller de l’avant avec une énorme poussée initiale de la demande refoulée.»
Pendant ce temps, Andrew Montlake, directeur général du courtier hypothécaire Coreco, a déclaré: «La demande est certainement toujours là. Nous avons reçu beaucoup plus de demandes de renseignements en mai, et de nombreuses personnes cherchent maintenant à déménager dans des régions plus rurales, compte tenu de la réduction du risque perçu des pics et des pandémies futurs.
«Il est clair qu’il est essentiel que les entreprises ne précipitent pas leur personnel avant d’avoir mis en place les mesures de sécurité requises, bien que tous les agents avec lesquels nous parlons respectent les normes les plus élevées.
«Il est essentiel que tous ceux qui travaillent dans le secteur immobilier, ainsi que les acheteurs et les vendeurs, les propriétaires et les locataires, soient aussi sûrs que possible.
«C’est l’occasion pour tous les acteurs du marché immobilier de montrer leur professionnalisme et de faire preuve de leadership.»
Vous pouvez à nouveau déménager! Voici tout ce que vous devez savoir pour reprendre la route
C’est officiel – le gouvernement a déclaré hier soir que des centaines de milliers de transactions immobilières qui s’étaient arrêtées pendant le verrouillage pourraient reprendre à partir d’aujourd’hui.
Les directives officielles conseillent fortement à ceux qui cherchent à acheter et à vendre de faire des visites en ligne dans la mesure du possible, mais, surtout, les arpenteurs seront autorisés à se rendre sur les propriétés pour faire des évaluations hypothécaires et des études de construction pour les acheteurs potentiels.
Ce sera une bonne nouvelle pour les 450 000 acheteurs et vendeurs estimés coincés dans les limbes de l’immobilier qui pourront désormais échanger des contrats et finaliser leurs achats.
Mais les indications publiées sur le site Web du gouvernement avertissent que l’achat et la vente d’une maison ne reviendront pas à la «normale» en Angleterre.
Il dit: « Le processus de recherche et de déménagement dans un nouveau domicile devra être différent étant donné que les personnes impliquées dans le processus devront adapter les pratiques et les procédures pour garantir que le risque de propagation du coronavirus soit réduit autant que possible.
«Cela comprendra la réalisation d’une plus grande partie du processus en ligne, comme les visionnements initiaux virtuels; vacating your current property whilst other people are shown around; and ensuring your property is thoroughly cleaned before someone else moves in.
‘We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate.’
Government has also warned that it may ‘become necessary to pause all home moves for a short period of time’ to manage the spread of the coronavirus.
NAEA Propertymark’s Mark Hayward said he was ‘pleased’ with the housing announcements so far, adding: ‘The return to work needs to be done in a safe and practical way.’
But what does that mean? Will estate agents open their doors immediately? Will you be allowed to travel to view properties?
This is Money has pored over the small print and spoken to the experts to find answers to all your questions.
I want to restart my sale – what should I do?
Contact your estate agent to find out how they’re approaching restarting viewings.
Many have said already that they are prepared to do physical viewings from today, following the guidance released by Government last night.
There are strict guidelines however – you’ll need to be out of the house while people are viewing it. Social distancing rules still apply and many agents are saying that all parties will need to wear masks and gloves while in a property.
Virtual viewings will still be used initially and you’ll need to ensure your property is thoroughly cleaned before someone else moves in.
Be prepared to expect delayed moves if someone involved gets coronavirus and no-one should be moving into any home where people have coronavirus or are self-isolating.
Will I need to get my home revalued?
There’s been a lot of talk about the effect of lockdown on house prices, so be prepared for a conversation about your asking price.
That said, estate agents are expecting a big surge in enquiries from prospective buyers so, depending on the condition and location of your property, there may be sufficient interest to support your original asking price.
Indeed Rightmove said this morning it’s seen a 45 per cent increase in visits to its website today compared to yesterday. Your estate agent will be able to advise you on the best approach to take.
I want to start viewing properties this weekend – is this possible?
Yes – though within pretty strict guidelines. Whether you can view a property in person will depend on whether there is an agent available to conduct the viewing and also on whether the person selling is happy to have people into their home.
It’s unlikely that a huge rush of people will be comfortable having a string of strangers through their home at the moment, but if properties are empty or vendors are happy to be out while the viewing takes place, it may well be possible.
Sean Herdman-Low, senior negotiator at Maxwell’s Estate Agents in Banbury, says: ‘As well as getting the housing market and the economy back on track, the most important thing for us is to make sure that we are all safe, including staff and all clients.
‘We will be working with all of our vendors to set up safe ways of conducting viewings and only if they are comfortable to do so. We have got gloves and masks for everyone to use and will of course be ensuring social distancing rules are followed throughout.’
He adds that virtual viewings are also going to remain in place and have a vital role to play for some time to come.
‘They have proved very popular and easy to do,’ he says. ‘We will be aiming to do them on most of our properties from now on and ensure they look professional. We know from our marketing that videos get brilliant engagement online and on social media so it makes sense to continue with this.
‘We have had some real successes with virtual tours with a sale being agreed and houses coming to the market totally virtually.’
I had agreed a purchase before lockdown – does this mean we can now move?
Yes, though you’ll need to find a removal firm willing to do the move if you need help. They are out there.
Joanne Robinson, 40, is a property lawyer who has been renting in London and has bought a property in Amersham to be closer to her work in Beaconsfield.
Before the housing market froze she had a sale agreed but had not exchanged contracts.
However, she managed to exchange on April 28 and now has a moving date set for May 29.
She says: ‘Despite all this disruption I am absolutely determined to move ahead with this purchase and push things through.
‘Moving from central London to Amersham is crucial for my work and the home I have bought is absolutely perfect for my needs now. Keeping in close dialogue with the current owner is helping to keep things alive and kicking.’
She has successfully secured a removal firm and says it will be a relief once she is in her new home.
I want to buy my first home but haven’t got a mortgage agreed – can I now start the process?
Yes – most mortgage brokers and lenders have been able to conduct interviews and conversations over the phone or online already.
Indeed, Banbury-based mortgage broker Vantage Mortgages has remained busy throughout the lockdown.
Adam Messer, who heads up the firm, says: ‘Mortgage lenders have remained open throughout and rates are still as low as they have been for a long time. Demand has stayed strong with clients still needing to remortgage and purchase applications going in to lenders.’
Many mortgage lenders had curbed their willingness to offer new mortgages, especially to those with a smaller deposit.
But now that surveyors are allowed into properties to conduct mortgage valuations, it’s possible they’ll be more comfortable offering mortgages from now on.
Jeni Browne, director of mortgage broker Mortgages for Business, said: ‘Mortgage lenders and, indeed mortgage brokers, are open for new applications so there is nothing to stop you getting a mortgage agreement in principle.
‘Likewise, having an agreement is not a prerequisite to viewing property but you will find it hard to get an offer accepted without one.’
An agreement in principle is usually quick to obtain – sometimes even instant – so if you jumped on this today, you may be able to lock into a super cheap deal as rates are at their lowest ever at the moment.
However, experts are also warning that pent-up demand could see mortgages take longer to get sorted.
‘We recommend that buyers get their finances in order as soon as possible as processing times may take longer than usual as lenders deal with a flurry of applications,’ says Chris Sykes, a mortgage broker for Private Finance.
‘There is still limited availability of high loan-to-value mortgages at 90 per cent and above and those heavily reliant on bonuses or commission may need to widen their search of lender, but this is where expert advice is extremely valuable.’
My sale stalled because the mortgage lender couldn’t get a valuation done – when is this now likely to happen?
Some lenders have already announced that their valuers are going to be carrying out physical inspections as soon as possible, albeit within certain guidelines.
In that case, there is a chance a valuation could be imminent. However, not all lenders have made this decision so it may be worth just checking whether going to a new lender could expedite matters for you.
If the property is more specialist – say where a landlord is looking to buy an HMO, house in multiple occupation – a physical survey has to take place.
‘We may still be a few weeks away from getting the application unstuck in that type of instance,’ says Browne.
‘Speak to your broker who will be able to keep you up to date as the market opens up and can advise whether there are alternative lenders who can move quicker for you.’
Because no valuations have taken place since 23 March, there is going to be a big backlog to deal with so be patient.
There will be delays to all sales but with mortgage valuations in person now permitted, transactions that have gone awry will slowly get back on track.
‘The timing around valuation will depend somewhat on how much you want to borrow and whether your mortgage can be based on an automatic or desktop valuation,’ says Browne.
‘There will inevitably be a backlog as valuers start to get back out so if you will need a physical valuation so I’d would advise getting into the queue as soon as possible.’