• Kieran

How to move house during an outbreak

February 2020 would have gone down in the records as a promising, maybe even game-changing month for the UK housing market after years of uncertainty. It felt like things were settling down. Mortgage approvals were up, with 73,500 deals done on funding for property purchases that month alone. It was the highest number in years, an indicator that a vital component in deciding how confident we are in our national economy was on the up.

Clearly, thousands of households were, as usual, on the brink of moving home. And then March happened.

“The figures feel like they came from another time,” says Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker Coreco. “Within just a few weeks the property and mortgage markets have gone from strength to abject uncertainty.

“We’re confident things will eventually get back on track, but the great unknown in the current highly fluid environment is: when?

“The hope is that the mortgage market rebounds as fast as it is deteriorating once we come out the other side of Covid-19.

“For now the most important thing is that every lender supports borrowers as best it can in these most challenging times.”

With the UK on lockdown, the usual buzz of activities around new sales and lettings prospects have inevitably ground to a halt.

The buying and selling process can continue to a limited extent and owners are free to accept offers, the government has acknowledged, but warns the process – which is often drawn out at the best of times – could now take significantly longer than usual.

Current government guidelines state that owners should not allow agents or their associates into their property to carry out appraisals and viewings should not go ahead.

Would-be sellers or landlords are being urged to concentrate instead on getting their properties ready for marketing when the lockdown restrictions are eventually eased, with cleaning decorating and repairs high on the to-do list.

“With lettings you need to be more fleet-footed for when the restrictions are lifted,” adds Jeremy Leaf, an estate agent in north London and former residential chairman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “There is more that landlords can do in terms of getting certificates lined up and agreements ready. It’s worth having a checklist so you can ensure everything is covered.”

“Given the situation in the UK with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus, we urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes,” the government’s latest guidelines state.

“There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times, including the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding. The health of individuals and the public must be the priority.” Read More

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