A plan to boost home sales under strict social distancing rules is to be formulated by ministers and real estate officials during this week’s talks, the Mail on Sunday may reveal.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher will host a video conference with the commercial agency for real estate agents to discuss how people can start buying, selling and moving safely.
The proposals under consideration include asking sellers to stay in their gardens during tours and requiring potential buyers to wear masks and gloves. In addition, visits to each property may be limited each day.
Pending: Home Sales Stopped During Covid-19 Pandemic After Government Ordered Temporary Freeze in March
Last week, government officials organized a series of Zoom videoconference calls with working groups including lawyers, carriers, real estate agents and movers to propose a series of measures to revive the housing market.
Home sales stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic after the government ordered a temporary freeze in March. It is estimated that 373,000 property purchases worth £ 82 billion are pending until the foreclosure ends.
It is feared that house prices will fall sharply if sales resume at a time when the economy is heading for a deep recession. Industry sources said the government wanted to revive the housing market as soon as possible.
The social distancing plans under discussion will be sent to Public Health England for approval and are expected to be finalized “within two weeks”.
Preliminary discussions held last week focused on a set of standards for “socially distanced” legal opinions and transactions. Sources said home sellers should open all of their interior doors and turn on their lights so potential buyers don’t have to touch any surface.
Vendors will be asked to temporarily leave their property during each visit – perhaps by staying in their backyard or going to the supermarket or for a walk – to avoid physical contact with visitors.
Viewers of the property appear certain that they are required to wear gloves and masks and should avoid touching anything within the boundaries of the property.
The number of viewers authorized for each visit may be limited. There are also plans to ban the booking of consecutive views. Real estate agents will need to verify that no one on the property has symptoms of Covid-19. If an occupant appears to show signs of infection, all visits will be canceled.
Sellers will have to clean their house before and after each visit. In addition, disinfection work should be carried out in the common entrance areas of the buildings.
Lenders will calculate house appraisals numerically using existing local market data and that which exists for the property offered for sale – unless the buyer is looking to borrow a large amount from the deposit he pays for the House.
Any mortgage with a high loan to value ratio will require a physical visit from an appraiser who will need to maintain strict social distancing at all times. Meanwhile, lawyers are developing plans to electronically sign and witness mortgage documents.
This week’s discussions will also focus on who pays for protective gear worn by agents and potential buyers and for any cleaning work required. Industry leaders are also busy figuring out how to restart the hundreds of thousands of real estate transactions that were put on hold during the foreclosure. They fear a rush to reach deals as soon as the lock is lifted could lead to long delays.
Mark Hayward, President and CEO of the National Association of Estate Agents, said, “There will be a spike in property completions coming out of the foreclosure. It will be a challenge because the people who have been fired have all put all their staff on leave – but everyone will want to move on Friday after the lockout ends.
“So all of this has to be managed. This will have to be a phased approach. “
Lawyers have started negotiating end-of-contract extensions and lenders are flexible over the term of mortgage agreements.
Hayward added: “The government is keen to see the housing market rebound, but we must re-enter the market safely. “
Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla listing company, said: “The real estate market can operate in a world of continuous social distancing. You can find ways to work around these issues.
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