Buying and selling a home now that lockdown is lifted
Are you looking to move home but want to know how coronavirus has changed things? Here is latest advice on preparing to move, conducting socially-distanced viewings and removals, plus the latest on delays you could face, house prices and how to negotiate.
Can I move house now?
Yes, you can now move home in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Estate agents are now open, viewings are taking place in a socially distanced manner and conveyancers are busy processing transactions.
But this is not back to normal!
When it comes to buying and selling, the government stresses that this is not a return to normal. It is calling on “all parties involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate.”
The government warns “It may also become necessary to pause all home moves for a short period of time to manage the spread of the coronavirus”.
How is the housing market looking now?
It’s one month since lockdown was lifted and the picture is uncertain.
Rightmove recorded it’s busiest ever day on Wednesday 27 May, surpassing six million visits for the first time and up 18% on the same Wednesday in May last year.
Search activity was reported as turning into action with record levels of people phoning and emailing estate agents through Rightmove, also up 18% on the same day last year.
Zoopla has also recorded near-pre lockdown levels of interest in the last month.
At the moment we have estate agents and portals keen to talk up the level of interest, buyers looking for discounts and sellers hesitant to start their move in the current climate.
But what if you need to move?
Divorce, death and debt are all push factors alongside the need to move for a new job, to be near relatives or because the experience of lockdown has accelerated your need to find a place with a garden, more space or near family. In which case, we recommend you get on with it.
What about the stamp duty holiday?
The Chancellor has announced a stamp duty holiday so that homebuyers can now buy a home up to £500,000 and not have to pay a penny of stamp duty – until end of March 2021. Read more about what this means for first time buyers and second home buyers.
And house prices?
According to Nationwide, UK house prices fell by 1.7% over the month in May – the largest monthly fall since February 2009. As a result, the annual rate of house price growth slowed to 1.8%, from 3.7% in April. But we wouldn’t put too much stock on these figures: they are based on Nationwide’s lending data, do not include cash purchases, and may have a greater volatility owing to the very low levels of activity.
We won’t know the true impact of the pandemic on the economy and people’s finances until government initiatives like mortgage holidays and the furlough scheme come to an end in October.
House prices will be constantly adjusting over the next few months. Prices people are paying today won’t be known for a few months when they are eventually listed with the Land Registry. So we’ll be waiting until August before we really know the impact on what people are willing to pay.