Is the residential property market bouncing back post-lockdown?

The housing market reopened on 13th May with conveyancers, estate agents and surveyors restarting their businesses. Since then, residential property sales figures are nearly back to normal as people who were unable to join the market during the lockdown can now move house. 40,000 new sales have been agreed - only 3% down on last year.

In May and June Rightmove recorded their busiest days ever and the number of people now emailing estate agents is 40% above the level recorded in early March before the property market was put on hold.

The residential property market has so far shown more resilience than had been feared. On average, buyers are paying 97.7% of the property asking price which compares to 96.6% for sales completed in February. The average asking price for a property on sale now is up by 1.9% on sale prices just prior to lockdown. [1]

At the current time, every aspect of a house move including the entire conveyancing process is carried out with safety as a priority. If you are thinking about moving house we advise reading Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak so that you are aware of the Government’s current rules.[2]

Can I go ahead and market my property as usual? 

Yes you can.  Estate agents are still allowed to visit your property to provide a valuation and to take photographs as long as nobody is self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

Just as in normal circumstances, it is a good idea to collate all the documents you need to sell your property as early as possible. You will find a list of the documents you need in: How to Sell: A guide for people looking to sell a home in England and Wales published by the Ministry of Housing.[3]

When potential buyers and professionals visit your home you will need to follow the Government’s hygiene and social distancing rules. For example, if an estate agent is showing a visitor round or a surveyor is working you should minimize contact by staying in another room or the garden. You also need to provide hand washing facilities (with disposable towels) so that visitors can wash their hands when they enter your property and at other times as needed. If you are going to use a removal company then the Government advise you to clean all items that they will handle and do as much of the packing yourself as you can.[4]

My property is already on the market – should I go ahead? 

In most circumstances there is no need to remove a property from the market due to coronavirus. If you are clinically vulnerable and shielding you could seek medical advice to help you to reach a decision. Your residential property solicitor will also be able to advise you in these circumstances. 

You might wish to have your property revalued in case there has been a change. House prices are relative, so if you find your property value has decreased any property you wish to purchase may also have decreased. It is important to research the residential property market in your area.

If your property purchase is dependent on securing a mortgage, check that you are still eligible. The financial information group Defaqto has found a fall in the number of mortgages available since lockdown began.[5] This might partly be due to mortgage companies supporting those who require payment holidays. 

There will be changes to the way you market your property at this time. If you had originally planned to hold an open house then this can no longer take place. Also note that fewer people will view your property in person. 

How can I view properties to buy?

At the current time, the Government advises people to conduct most viewings virtually, and only to physically visit a property when they are seriously considering making an offer. Estate agents offer virtual tours, and viewings can also be done by video link.

Newly built property viewings are still carried out in person. You can visit a show home as normal but there will be a strict appointment system in place.  

When you visit any property you can only do so with members of your own household and only if nobody is self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms. You should expect that internal doors are left open for you to minimize contact with surfaces. Handwashing facilities with disposable towels should have been provided. Wash your hands when you arrive and leave and in between as needed. It is also sensible to bring your own hand sanitizer.[6]

Keep all viewings to less than fifteen minutes and strictly adhere to current social distancing rules. 

I want to buy a property – what are the next steps?

As soon as you begin your property search it is sensible to engage the services of a property solicitor.

A successful property purchase has always been largely dependent on a fast, smooth conveyancing process. When conveyancing is a difficult, drawn-out process then it is more likely a sale will fall through due to a change in circumstances of somebody, particularly if you are in a chain. For example, somebody might lose their job, become ill or their mortgage offer might expire. In the current climate, speed and efficiency are more vital than ever.

Get ahead by completing initial conveyancing paperwork such as proof of address and identity. The sooner your residential property solicitor has the completed paperwork the sooner they can carry out local searches. It is advisable to start searches quickly as some local authorities have a backlog due to the lockdown.

From the outset, your conveyancer will be able to advise you how to miminize risks associated with coronavirus so that every step of your house move runs smoothly.

What coronavirus safety guidelines must property solicitors follow?

Conveyancers follow coronavirus guidance produced by the Government and the Law Society and this guidance is updated as the situation changes.[7] Every professional involved in a house move including property solicitors, estate agents and surveyors are expected to take adequate steps to meet health and safety requirements and they must also follow the Government’s safer working guidance.[8]

The guidance states that conveyancers must conduct as much business as possible remotely, and make sure their clients understand these changes to usual practice. Sometimes residential property solicitors need to meet their clients, and when they do so they must follow the Government’s social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Your conveyancer should make you aware that you will not be able to move into a home where somebody is self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms, and they should make provision for this in contracts. Contracts should not be exchanged unless flexible moving dates are agreed.

Why choose Insight Law conveyancers?

Our property solicitors work hard to drive sales and purchases forward no matter what the circumstances. As always, client care is at the heart of our business. We regularly communicate with our clients to update them on the progress of their house move so they are involved at every stage.

Your safety during these times is paramount and we are successfully adapting our practices by holding appointments by email, telephone and by video call.

Are you considering a house move? Call us on 02920 093 600 and our experienced conveyancers will answer any of your property questions.

 

[1] Rightmove, Early signs show English property market bouncing back, https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/property-news/rightmove-house-price-index-june 

[2] Gov UK, Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#advice-to-the-public 

[3] Ministry of Housing, How to Sell: A guide for people looking to sell a home in England and Wales, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/829865/6.5492_-_MHCLG_-_How_to_Sell_Guide_WEB.PDF

[4] Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#advice-to-industry

[5] Defaqto, https://www.defaqto.com/

[6] Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#advice-to-industry

[7] The Law Society, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance to conveyancers advising clients on house moves, https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/articles/guidance-to-conveyancers-advising-clients-on-house-moves/

[8] Gov UK, Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

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