England is once again opening its property market after close to two months of inactivity, much to the delight of letting agents in and around the country.
With England leading the way, the rest of the UK should not be far behind. However, those who are hoping for the market to bounce back immediately will have to wait a bit longer.
When the virus hit the country and threatened our health and safety, viewings and valuations were stopped as part of the mitigating actions against its effects. It left about 373,000 transactions worth £82 billion temporarily halted, according to Zoopla.
Perhaps the government decided to reopen the market in light of the £2.5 billion stamp duty receipts the market could generate in terms of sales.
Property Markets Reopening and Adapting
Regardless of intention or motive, sellers and realtors can once again market properties for buyers to view. The only thing is the process now is slightly more complicated than what it used to be.
Logistically, navigating the post-lockdown property market is now extra challenging. Virtual tours of the property are now a requirement before a prospective buyer arranges for actual physical viewing.
Agents then ask the interested buyers to sign a health declaration prior to making viewing arrangements. Temperature checks will also need to be done at the door before entering the property.
COVID-19 safety protocols will still be implemented throughout the viewing process. All parties involved should still wear masks and gloves, keep their distance from the others inside the property, and avoid touching anything.
Once the viewing is done, the homeowners should clean and disinfect all door handles and surfaces. Pleasantries such as high tea during a viewing is no longer encouraged to minimize health risks.
Since the recent market reopening, real estate professionals have been working round the clock making the necessary tweaks and adjustments to their shops and offices to comply with the new social distancing health and safety standards.
Despite these changes, the demand for houses has gone up. Proof of this is that when the market reopened, the number of phone calls inquiring about properties went up by 72% compared to the week before that. Emails have also more increased by more than twice as many inquiries.
This may seem like good news to someone who’s looking to sell, but that is until they hear what the buyer has to offer.
Before the lockdown, the exchange rate in London’s wealthier parts was 98% of the asking price, with an average offer of about 93.7%. However, when the market restarted, the offers being accepted were only at an average of 94% with average offers of only 89% of the sellers’ asking prices.
There’s a bit of a standoff there. Property valuation is also a bit of a challenge now because with the few sales during the entire lockdown period, professionals don’t have enough data to draw their digits from.
At this point, it is still uncertain how the property market will recover but industry experts are confident that it will eventually regain its footing. How it will get to that point, only time will tell. Let’s wait and see.