The Mail on Sunday reports today that Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP will this week collaborate with the estate agency industry on means to kick-start the property market.
It’s expected that agents will be able to undertake physical valuations and viewings from as early as the week after next albeit under strict social distancing guidelines.
These guidelines will include limiting the number of viewings that take place in each property per day and the wearing of masks and gloves by the agent and viewers whilst the owners of occupied properties will be urged to temporarily leave their home and to wait elsewhere whilst the viewings take place.
“This might seem pantomime-esque’ says our property expert Russell Quirk, ‘however the alternative is to wait many more weeks or even months before a vaccine is found and in the meantime, the housing market would otherwise go from temporarily frozen as now to a barren, post-apocalypse wasteland. Restarting the property market and preserving values is important to the wider economy which it underpins and therefore the Government’s plans for estate agency to be one of the first to be airlifted out of lockdown, is not only welcome but essential”.
Mortgage valuations are also being discussed in the context of how to perform them once sales get going again and it’s likely that historic data and a digital approach will be employed for most loans albeit that high loan to value mortgages will still require a physical visit from a surveyor. Surveyors will be trained in social distancing procedures.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: ‘There will be a spike in property completions coming out of lockdown. This will be a difficulty because the removal people have all put all of their staff on furlough – but everyone is going to want to move on the Friday after the end of lockdown. So all of that needs to be managed. It will need to be a staggered approach.’
The Nationwide Building Society’s Chief Economist Robert Gardner this week stated that they expect to see a bounce in home values post-crisis. “The raft of policies adopted to support the economy, including to protect businesses and jobs, to support people’s incomes and keep borrowing costs down, should set the stage for a rebound once the shock passes, and help limit long-term damage to the economy. These same measures should also help ensure the impact on the housing market will ultimately be much less than would normally (be the case)”.