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How a staged return for the housing market could look

Published: 03/05/2020

By Tom Bloomfield.

An article in the Daily Mail Online yesterday explained that government officials will have further dialogue with estate agency trade bodies next week to discuss options for a staged re-opening of the UK housing market.

Matters being discussed mostly relate to viewings and will include the following measures:

  • That vendors should switch on lights and open doors before retreating outside whilst buyers view on their own.
  • That all parties attending a viewing should wear protective masks and gloves.
  • Limitations on the volume and frequency of viewings to allow thorough disinfecting in between.

Changes to the way that lenders and surveyors operate are also being discussed including arranging more desktop valuation surveys on properties with low or normal loan-to-value ratios. Solicitors may be encouraged to introduce technology to allow contracts to be signed remotely, which is a change that I hope will outlast the pandemic.

My view

If we are required to allow a buyer to walk around a client’s home relatively unattended, then we will look to increase viewer referencing to include at least the presentation of photo ID on arrival; however, even with restrictions such as these in place, if viewings of any sort are allowed to happen then transactions levels will vastly improve from their current position.

Interestingly, more than 90% of the clients whose houses were for sale with us in mid-march chose to keep them advertised online during the lockdown.

Furthermore, we have seen no reduction in online hits, and only a 50% drop in buyer enquiries over the last six weeks. As I write, we have two full weeks’ worth of viewings to arrange as soon as restrictions are lifted and two months’ worth of houses to launch (or re-launch) for sale.

Whatever the timeframe for the softening of restrictions there does appear to be a desire among buyers and sellers to get on with moving as soon as they can, and in turn we at BG are prepared and newly-energised to hit the ground running when we get the green light.

If you have any questions about buying or selling in the current environment, please do not hesitate to contact me on  Alternatively you can browse our portfolio of properties throughout Suffolk and Essex here.