“You are free to move home. However…”
Advice for agents on buying, selling, and showing property in the UK during the 2nd wave lockdown (November 2020)
The first UK COVID-19 lockdown had the good manners to start as March gave way to a balmy April - allowing for optimists to don running shoes and walking boots to get their daily hour of exercise in the open air. Those with outdoor space took to the garden for games and barbecues, while local parks played host to socially distanced picnics and dogwalks.
The second lockdown arrives as the temperature drops, and autumn starts to assume a more wintry feel. What hasn’t changed since the March lockdown however, is the favourable advice for the property market - with special dispensation from the government, aimed at keeping the property industry - and the UK economy - healthy.
More of the same?
The title of this article is a direct quote from “Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (England)” a slightly updated version of the original advice shared earlier this year. It goes on to describe specific considerations–of which there are many–for all parties involved in the buying and selling process.
That little seems to have changed since the first lockdown in terms of government advice, may speak to the efficacy of the strategy.
- Property prices are at their highest since 2015, with an average house price in October of £227, 826, a 5.8% increase on 2019 figures according to Nationwide Building Society.
- The stamp duty holiday has likewise caused a surge in property transactions and is likely to continue over the coming months, with the holiday due to expire at the end of March.
What's different this time around?
That last point, however, may indicate one of the key differences the industry will see during ‘Lockdown, part 2.’ That with buyers experiencing delays due to the increased demand in affiliated services–conveyancing, surveyors and lenders for example–there may be a knock on effect. Where transactions are held up beyond the end of March, buyers may choose to withdraw previously agreed offers in the early part of next year, adding a sense of urgency for buyers, sellers and agents alike.
Another change - worthy of note for agents - is the slight shift in customer demand. The warm weather drive for properties with outside space may lean more acutely towards the ‘bigger property’ trend that surfaced around the same time, as buyers look for home offices and indoor gym space.
Unwanted but not complete unexpected?
Although the new lockdown advice may impact agents’ ability to show and complete sales on active listings, it’s still possible to make the most of the remaining stamp duty holiday period.
Things to remember:
- We’ve been here before, and while we’d all prefer that lockdown was behind us, things are often easier the second time around
- Virtual viewings are no longer an unknown, not only are agents more adept at hosting them, but buyers are more aware that they have become an essential part of the 2020 home buying journey
- Appointment only in-person viewings can involve two households, e.g. seller and buyer, or buyer and agent, or, if the agent is happy to wait outside, two buyer households
- All parties should adhere to additional safety recommendations like wearing face coverings, asking potential buyers to avoid touching anything, asking sellers to vacate the property for the duration of the viewing and opening all the doors prior to the potential buyers’ arrival to keep door frames and handles clean
The public “are free to move home” and as an agent, you are free to sell them, using all the resources at your disposal: a digital-first approach, your expertise as a local property professional, and the strategies you have adopted to navigate the turbulence of the last six months. Let’s not forget that while this period certainly hasn’t been easy for anyone, there has been some undeniably positive impact on the UK property industry, and all we need to do to feel the benefit of that impact is adapt. After all, that stamp duty holiday won’t last forever...
For more on government responses to COVID-19 around the world, see our blog post
Real Estate, COVID-19 and What 2021 Holds for the Industry