What impact is lockdown having on the property market?

Despite a lifting of some minor restrictions, the UK is still very much closed as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business owners from all sectors are trying to map out the affect the pandemic will have on their business, particularly for those who cannot work remotely. Given the hands-on nature of the traditional high-street estate agent it is no surprise that the property market in the UK has virtually ground to a halt and property prices are expected to fall by 20%.

Only in February this year was the property industry riding high, with a so called ‘Boris Bounce’ seeing a peaked interest in buying and selling. Zoopla revealed a year on year buyer interest of 60%. However, with the pandemic taking a firm grip on the country back in March, this boost came to a sharp end.

Restrictions lifted for property industry

Typically, the spring is a blossoming time for the property industry. After an often-quiet winter spell interest in buying and selling picks up towards the end of Q1 and into Q2. However, the measures put in place by the government has halted this natural progression thus far.

However, new guidance from the government has given estate agent the green light to open agent premises again and allow in person viewings whilst maintaining social distancing. Along with this show homes can reopen, and conveyancers, surveyors and removal companies can go back to work.

Figures estimate that around 450,000 people, both buyers and renters, were affected by restrictions put in place to combat COVID-19 since lockdown began in March.

However, it is a little too late for Q2? Whilst this positive light for the property industry as a whole is to be celebrated, many believe there won’t be the flurry of activity you might expect after weeks of stagnation. Whilst figures show a rise in people visiting property portals since March many households are much less financially secure. Many sales and rental agreements have already fallen through due to this. Many experts expect haggling on sale price to be more intense than before and securing a mortgage in the current economic climate to be much more difficult. People’s tastes may also have changed, with large gardens and office spaces likely becoming more important buying criteria.

Many people are sceptical regarding how social distancing would work regarding viewings, particularly when the majority of the public are still at home. It is expected that digital house viewings will remain the norm for many estate agents.

Properties on the market

With estate agents and other industry personnel back at work, this equals good news for anybody who had their property on the market whilst non-essential workplaces were closed. With many people desperate to sell their homes that may have been on the market months prior to lockdown, questions are being raised over next steps.

Whilst tough personal finances, estate agents not operating at 100% and a new way of working will inevitably have a knock-on effect this does not mean buying or selling is off the cards. However, it may just be a slower process compared to before the pandemic occurred.

However, for those wanting to sell their house fast, there are companies out there facilitating sales solely online. Online estate agents have garnered popularity over recent years, and many have faced little to no impact throughout the pandemic in the UK. This means there are businesses operating normally should parties want to sell quickly rather than wait months on the open market.