Although the property market came to a halt as soon as the lockdown took hold, the market itself may not experience as much as fall as previously expected.
With the hope that the lockdown may be eased at the end of the month – the property market is already gearing up for a comeback. Developers including Persimmon, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey are planning on reopening this month.
Chief executive of Taylor Wimpey, Pete Redfern, said: “We are now confident that we have clear plans and processes in place so we can safely start back on site in a phased way beginning on 4 May.”
“Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety, and wellbeing of the public, our colleagues, subcontractors, and suppliers. Having spent the last month developing and testing new site protocols that incorporate the necessary social distancing and protective measures, we believe that we are now able to return to the site safely and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is welcoming the news of phased site openings. He is hoping that the market will pick back up quickly. In a recent statement, he said, “I welcome developers reopening sites following careful consideration of public-health guidance. Building the homes, the country needs is vitally important. Work in construction can and should continue.”
The future of virtual viewings
Property platform Rightmove has recently reported higher searches for specific terms such as houses with gardens. Plus, estate agents are also highlighting a rise in virtual viewings as renters and buyers are eager to get things moving after the lockdown ends.
This type of viewing is also likely to continue after lockdown, according to the OneDome Group.
Founder and Chief Executive of OneDome, Babek Ismayil, said: “Due to the current lockdown restrictions, it’s important that agents are able to seamlessly execute virtual viewings. There is, though, a high chance these types of viewings will remain popular once lockdown is over.
“For many properties, traditional in-person viewings will still be required. However, virtual viewings are very useful for prospective buyers who live far away from the property or those who want to get an initial feel of a home before deciding whether it is worth visiting.”
Housing market predictions
Many housing market experts are saying that it is too early to tell what will happen in the aftermath of the virus. However, a recent report from Knight Frank suggested there could be a drop of around 35% in the sector.
Savills also predicted falls in the capital of between 5 and 10%. However, over the next five years, they remained optimistic it would rise by 15%.
Oliver Knight, a research associate at Knight Frank, said: “Of course, the key question which will determine the impact is ‘how long’. If COVID-19 disruption is short-lived, that could mean the UK can get back on track relatively quickly. However, the longer the disruption, the higher the pressure on the market and longer the recovery.”