Industry reacts to re-opening of property market

Robyn Ashman

May 13, 2020

The mortgage and wider property industry has, unsurprisingly, welcomed confirmation that the government would reopen the property market to movers and renters. 

Yesterday we reported that restrictions to activities related to the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property were all set to be lifted. 

Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker, Coreco, welcomed the move but cautioned that this was a first step in getting the market back on track.

He said: “It’s great that the government has recognised the importance of the housing market to the wider UK economy, and many anxious buyers will be relieved that they can now continue with their transactions after weeks in limbo.

“There is still a long way to go before we have a fully functional housing market but this is a tentative first step in the right direction and cause for celebration.

“The great unknown is how cautious surveyors will be with their valuations and lenders their criteria but that will become apparent in the days and weeks ahead.

“Demand is certainly still there. We have received a lot more enquiries in May, with many people now looking to move to more rural areas given the perceived reduced risk from future peaks and pandemics.

“Clearly it’s essential that firms do not rush their staff back before they have the requisite safety measures in place, although all the agents we speak to are adhering to the very highest standards.

“It’s vital that all those working in the property industry, as well as buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, are kept as safe as possible.

“This is a chance for everyone in the property market to show their professionalism and lead from the front.”

David Westgate, group chief executive at Andrews Property Group, warned of the need to make sure that the right precautions are taken by professionals to protect all those involved in the process.

He said: “Moving home is a highly emotive process and the reignition of the property market on Wednesday will help boost the nation’s spirits.

“Adherence to social distancing and the highest safety standards will be absolutely paramount and all precautions will be taken to protect people viewing property, including through the use of PPE equipment where appropriate.

“There are differing views on how the property market will shape up as the lockdown is gradually eased but we expect to see significant activity moving forward with a huge initial surge in pent-up demand.

“Though there is uncertainty ahead, the radical steps that the government has taken to support the economy, coupled with interest rates being cut to a record low, will cushion the property market against the full impact of the lockdown.

“It will be the first quarter of next year before the property market finally gets into its stride again but for now it is off the canvas and back in the fight.”

Lucy Pendleton, property expert at independent estate agents James Pendleton, said the news was “fantastic” and said the market was ready, and raring, to go.

She said: “It’s a brave new world but the viewings must go on. We’ve got all the necessary PPE ready to go, and buyers and sellers keen to start viewing straight away. We’re just waiting to hear what the government’s detailed guidelines are.

“Agents have been desperate to get back to business, and an explicit mention for the sector in the government’s lockdown strategy on Monday was noticeable by its absence. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when news that agents could get back to work trickled out late yesterday afternoon.

“It’s fantastic news that agents aren’t going to have to wait until July to start showing properties properly again, as we will find out sooner rather than later whether some of the more dire predictions for the housing market will come true.

“In London, we have seen absolutely no sign of the conditions that would normally precipitate a marked fall in prices. We expect a
similar picture to be playing out across the country.

“Lack of supply exacerbated by sellers delaying their moves until after the pandemic has eased significantly is going to put a floor under prices, much like it did during the Brexit negotiations. Borrowing rates are extremely low too and that’s going to boost buying power.”

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