People are understandably frightened and nervous. We have become used to, and embraced this unnatural life of being full-time home dwellers with its occasional shopping trips and Big Brother government monitored runs and bike rides. Have we forgotten how to work?
Will the property market have permanently lost its way? We are told that an estimated 450,000 property transactions were put on hold or cancelled altogether because of the impact of the coronavirus. I’m certainly not convinced that the valiant effort of some estate agents to create a virtual valuation marketplace were successful during the lockdown.
We have heard that, from today, people will be able to visit estate agents, in line with social distancing rules. Homebuyers will be permitted to visit properties they’re interested in as long as social distancing measures are in place and surveyors and valuers are now able to carry out property inspections. Removal companies are also back in business.
I guess the big question is going to be whether or not this unlocking will result in some stabilisation and mending of the damage enforced inactivity has wrought on the property market.
Perhaps buyers will be reassessing the type and location of the property they look for. Frances Clacy, an analyst at Savills says that
‘Greater space has become a prerequisite for those anticipating increased homeworking and those with children. More outdoor space and access to countryside are also likely to be of greater importance to parents looking for a new home’
40% of respondents to a survey were more likely to choose to live in a village and 17% would look for a longer commute because they now expect to be working from home more; according to Savill’s.
My view is that we have survived and more than recovered from worse situations in the past. There are some really great buying opportunities out in the market now, particularly where sellers who were probably already selling at below-market values before lockdown found themselves being let down again, suddenly and unexpectedly by frightened purchasers withdrawing from purchases. These properties are identifiable and available now.