Updated: May 13, 2020
It is indeed a strange and disturbing time for everyone - especially for all families affected directly by the virus, but of course for all jobs and the economy there is a lot of uncertainty right now in the world.
I want to give a bit of insight into what is happening in the UK property market, and what it is like for moving home at this time.
Of course some of the things mentioned may be subject to change in the coming weeks.
-EDIT 13/05/2020 - Viewings, Valuations and moving home is now allowed as of today, albeit with keeping to strict social distancing guidelines. This article does include sections which are still relevant, please also see my newest blog for new info.
BUYING A PROPERTY
A lot of Estate Agents are still having to work from home, so face to face viewings or valuations are off the cards at this time. Although this isn't stopping agents from doing virtual online viewings to help promote their properties online, with more people home than usual hunting through Rightmove and Zoopla! Most agents should still be operating to take any enquiries you may have, and to put you on any post-lockdown viewing list.
If you are currently buying a property, chances are there will inevitably be some delays. With Estate Agents, Solicitors and Banks/Mortgage Lenders either closing or having to work from home, it may at first appear the market has come to a standstill or your purchase will fall through.
This isn't always the case!
From working within an Estate Agents at this time, I can definitely say some completions are able to go through. If you are buying an empty/vacant property, and with maintaining social distancing with solicitors for documents and estate agents for keys, the Government has advised there is no issues with completing, whilst strictly maintaining social distancing. Now it is a fact that this can change per case, but my advice would be if you already have a pending purchase to contact your estate agent, solicitor, removal firm and mortgage lender to check they are ALL still operating.
Also if you are in a small chain, and progressed already, you should be able to work with your solicitors for a completion date, and on the day of completion keep as safe as possible with social distancing in order to retrieve keys. The more of you in the chain, the more likely that all parties and solicitors would aim for a post-lockdown completion - for obvious safety aspects and for less last minute complications.
If you've already had a survey done, then great! If not, some lenders are offering virtual online valuations, but unfortunately the majority are having to wait until lockdown ends before they can visit the property. You never know, this may very well change in a few weeks.
Mortgage lenders seem to be focusing moreso on ongoing applications currently, and unfortunately with some banks, for new customers the rates are very high - some even wanting a hefty 40% deposit for first time buyers to put down..
BUT THIS WILL SOON CHANGE!
And mortgage deals later in the year should start to look very enticing again. So don't fret too much at these current highs, as even in the past few days this seems to be changing and the banks seem to be putting our revised better deals. I'd advise speaking to an independent mortgage advisor now, to start giving your information in so they will be all ready for you when the time comes, which could very well be sooner than we think.
SELLING A PROPERTY
You may be either already on the market, or getting ready to sell your home - and wonder how this will all go!
As you can imagine, with a lot of people being off work, you may have a little bit of extra time on your hands. Maybe not if you are still working and have kids running amock! This is a PERFECT time to get on the spring cleaning hype! Gardening, decorating, clearing out guttering and weeds, ridding out those wardrobes... I could go on! But all will help in getting ready for some stunning marketing pictures which really do speak a thousand words!
Estate Agents can provide very close market valuations without having to visit the property, providing you are as honest as you can be about the condition and description of your home. Also with them not able to visit you, you can always send your own pictures or videos to assist in the valuation, or even marketing for the time being.
If you are already on the market, chances are your estate agents might have been a bit quieter lately for new enquiries, but with more people at home I can assure you of the Rightmove and Zoopla hits are still very much there, and people lining up for viewings for when restrictions allow. A lot of Agents are being pro-active and offering more pictures, and either virtual viewings or video tours, as of course normal viewings are still on hold at this time.
It may seem like a big hurdle to come over, and with RICS surveyors advising prices could fall anything from 3-10% or more (with prices going back to 2/3 years ago) it may seem like a bad time to sell.
But rest assured, once lockdown ends, I think buyers will have a pent up thirst for snagging their dream home! So make sure you are on at the right price, if not prepare for a slight price reduction sooner, rather than later to help entice buyers and speak to your estate agents to make sure they are doing all they can in terms of market exposure.
I hope this provides some use to you, and of course if you have any questions feel free to get in touch - I can also offer more indepth property consultation to suit you specifically, alongside tailored online valuations and estate agency training.
Stay safe and be good to each other!
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