Confused over what Lockdown 2 means for the property market in England? We’re not surprised. But, the good news is – it’s still ‘open for business’ – albeit with strict social distancing rules in mind.
According to Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick, viewings and valuations can still take place when Lockdown 2 kicks in on Thursday, November 5. At the same time, house moves with hire vans and removal firms and can also go ahead, so long as all parties involved wear masks. This includes renters as well as property owners.
Rush to beat stamp duty deadline
This means that buyers keen to save thousands by getting the keys to their new home before the end of March 31, will still be in with a chance since surveyors and conveyancers will still be working (albeit from home). Many are speculating too that because of Lockdown 2 the Stamp Duty Holiday may be extended.
It’s not yet known, however, whether those who already have most of the sale in progress can still go ahead with completion or have to wait until December 2 when Lockdown 2 is due to end. During the last lockdown they were advised to put it on hold until the market opened again. A ruling over this is expected from the government later this week.
It may simply be academic though since its unlikely completions would go ahead within a reasonable timescale anyway. This week, a Rightmove report shows a huge backlog of UK property completions. In Glasgow, 71% of sold properties still have to be completed. Sheffield is next highest with 67% of sold properties waiting to complete. Bristol, Plymouth, Leeds and Nottingham also have big backlogs, according to the number of properties sold on the site.
Physical viewings may still be available
Similarly, we will hear in the next couple of days whether or not estate agents will be able to conduct physical viewings with prospective buyers (otherwise, legally an offer can’t be put in). Just like the first lockdown though, most viewings will be virtual. If it’s allowed then a physical viewing will be merely for ‘finalising’ a prospective buyer’s decision.
Many agents are using their smart phones to talk potential buyers through a property using video, similar to them being there in person. Others have 3D cameras, allowing viewers to conduct their own online tour through a property.
New property continues to be built
There will be no change to the construction industry. Employees can still go on site, builders’ merchants will remain open and tradesmen can enter homes. Jenrick confirmed this week that the government’s plan to build 300,000 homes a year was still “very much on.”
Mortgage holiday extended
House owners who haven’t applied previously for a mortgage holiday from their lender can now do so, for up to six months. Those who have already deferred can continue until they reach the six-month limit. Interest will still accrue over this time.
Landlords given blanket eviction ban over Christmas
Tenants can’t lose their rental property over the Christmas season from December 11 to January 11. At present they must be given six months notice of an eviction – unless particular circumstances prevail ie anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse etc. Tenants living in high-risk coronavirus locations ie those in Tier 2 and Tier 3 can’t be evicted at the moment.