This week, the property market in England reopened for business after being in lockdown since March.
373,000 property transactions were put on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to Zoopla. But now things can get moving again, although perhaps at a slower pace due to social distancing guidelines.
BACK IN BUSINESS IN ENGLAND
This week the government advised that estate agents, letting agents, surveyors, solicitors and conveyancers can reopen their offices. Properties can be viewed in person, provided social distancing guidelines are followed, such as staying two metres away from your viewing host.
According to Charlie Bryant, chief executive of Zoopla, “Opening up the housing market is not just great news for home-hunters and estate agents. As well as unlocking £82 billion of housing sales stalled in the pipeline, it will provide an all-important boost to the real economy, as housing sales trigger increased spending through builders, tradespeople, removal firms, solicitors and many more. By taking these steps, the government will give confidence to buyers, sellers and renters that Britain is reopening for business, and they can do their bit to get the economy moving again.”
A STRONG INITIAL SURGE OF INTEREST
Data from Rightmove shows a big initial surge of interest. On the day businesses re-opened, visits to the Rightmove portal were up 45% in the hour 07:00 to 08:00 compared to the same period 24 hours earlier.
2,115 new properties were also added to the portal in the first six hours of agencies resuming work. Meanwhile, email enquiries sent to agents via the portal increased by 70%.
CONSTRUCTION WORK RESTARTS WITH ADDITIONAL SUPPORT
The rate of construction slowed considerably in the last months with many projects closing temporarily and others limiting the number of people allowed to work on site. To counter this, the government is giving builders the option to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local councils.
This is alongside the launch of a charter from the government and Home Builders Federation to help construction sites adhere to the latest health and safety guidelines.
In another bid to help the construction industry get back on its feet, developers and local councils can publicise planning applications for new sites via social media instead of distributing posters and leaflets. It’s hoped this will accelerate this stage of the process.
Support has also been given to smaller developers, including enabling them to defer payments to local councils to help with cash flow issues.
PROPERTY INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Amid this flurry of activity, there has been some renegotiation going on with buyers looking for discounts. With economic uncertainty set to continue, there may be a standoff between what buyers expect and what sellers can afford to give.
In areas that had already seen discounting, further reductions are likely to be seen. But in regions where demand has been strong, prices are holding steady.
For the property investor, it’s all about researching regional strengths and investing in areas with enough growth potential to withstand ongoing economic fluctuations.
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