Coronavirus (Covid-19) has suddenly taken the UK housing market by surprise and the response from UK property professionals continues to evolve.
It’s only been a few days since Boris Johnson’s announced a nationwide lockdown in a bid to stop the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and already a massive impact has been felt by the UK property market.
The UK property market was enjoying the effects of the "Boris bounce" following the general election in December, but now the market faces uncertainty as the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic takes hold.
What the future holds for the UK housing market is very unclear and now we face an indefinite waiting game to see how the housing market will be impacted by Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Estate agents, solicitors, removal companies and many other property professionals are already reacting to the nationwide lockdown by adapting their business models in order to survive.
Many estate agents have begun introducing services to those buying and selling homes such as virtual viewings and live “walk-through” video tours, solicitors continue to provide conveyancing services remotely and removal companies executing necessary home moves whilst undertaking strict social distancing measures to minimise the spread of the virus.
With this chameleon like adaption by UK property professionals to comply with restrictions imposed by the UK Government to survive the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak there is still plenty of hope in the UK housing market.
The effects of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the UK housing market are currently unclear but will only ever be temporary.
For homeowners with a property currently on the market, the number of viewings have already slowed down whilst the nation adheres to restrictions imposed by the UK Government.
However, there is no need for panic, the need to move home will always remain and whilst more people stay at home due to the nationwide lockdown, search activity on major property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla is rocketing.
Even though estate agents and solicitors offices have closed across the UK to comply with restrictions imposed by the UK Government to survive the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, they will still be working remotely to deal with enquiries and providing services to those searching for a property or those currently buying or selling homes.
For those who have agreed to buy or sell a property and are awaiting a survey. Surveyors are currently unable to carry out valuation surveys, expect your mortgage application to be temporarily delayed. If you already have a mortgage offer in place, speak to your lender to check that the offer is still valid and that the level of borrowing you're taking on remains manageable if your job situation has changed.
If you have not yet exchanged contracts, your solicitor may advise to hold off for now. Whilst the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is in place time should be spent ensuring that all queries have been answered and as much of the process has been completed as possible. This will ensure that you're ready to exchange contracts as soon as the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is lifted.
There may be delays to local authority offices searches as staff adhere to restrictions imposed by the UK Government and cannot physically carry them out. If searches on your purchase have not yet been completed, you may have to wait until Coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions have been lifted.
If you’ve already exchanged contracts and are due to move home guidance from the UK Government states that home buyers should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new property whilst emergency measures are in place to fight Coronavirus (Covid-19).
If you are due to complete within the next three weeks, speak to your solicitor immediately to try and agree a new completion date beyond the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown period with all other parties in the chain.
If your completion date has been set beyond the next three weeks, monitor the situation very closely. Contact your solicitor immediately to try and agree a reserve completion date in-case the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown period is extended.
The British Association of Removers has issued guidance to its members to postpone all moves during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) period, except those which are already underway.
While the vast majority of removals will now be delayed, people moving property can still get quotes and choose their removals company in preparation for their move.
However, if moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, then people must follow the advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move for the time being.
If you're trying to move house and are unsure how the Government's announcement will affect you the latest UK Government advice on Coronavirus (Covid-19) can be found by visiting https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The UK housing market is in a good position for a healthy recovery after the effects of Coronavirus (Covid-19) begin to ease.
Use the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown time wisely to do as much preparation as possible to ensure you're in the best position to buy or sell a property when the crisis subsides.
UK property professionals and home owners, practicality, resilience and good humour have chartered the UK housing market through stormy unchartered waters many times before.
The UK housing market will recover, it always does.
As Boris Johnson said “We will get through this together, and we will beat the virus. To win this fight, we need everyone to follow our advice: as far as possible, we want you to stay at home. The more effectively everyone does this, the faster this country will recover “.