Deteriorating sentiment as COVID-19 impacts
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors recent ‘UK Residential Market Survey’ has reported that despite the residential property market experiencing a notable pickup in momentum at the start of the year, sentiment across the market has deteriorated sharply as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The survey highlights that following three consecutive monthly increases, new buyer demand came to an immediate halt in March, with a net balance of -74% of respondents across the UK reporting a fall in enquiries, and a net balance of -69% saw a decline in sales volumes. New instructions also tailed off sharply and inventory levels reached a record low of on average 40 properties per branch in March….
Active buyers have less mortgage options
Savills newly published ‘UK Housing Market Update’ highlights that any buyers managing to remain active will have to contend with restrictions in the mortgage market, as many lenders limit their available mortgages to lower loan-to-value products. This move has been embarked upon at a time when lenders are facing high volumes of mortgage payment holiday requests….
Help to Buy extension a consideration
It has been widely reported that the government is collaborating with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) regarding the possible extension of the Help to Buy scheme beyond its current deadline of April 2021. It is expected that the lockdown will inhibit the construction of around 200,000 new homes, so extending the Help to Buy scheme would help boost the industry.
Virtual viewings on the rise
During lockdown, estate agents are using technology to provide virtual house viewings to prospective buyers or tenants, unable to attend in person. Virtual viewings are understandably growing in popularity, with some viewers willing to put in an offer to buy or rent a home on the strength of the virtual experience alone. Data from Zoopla shows there has been no mass withdrawal of homes on the market due to the pandemic, Charlie Bryant, CEO of Zoopla commented: “There is a slight silver lining in that cloud that we are starting to see… people have kept their properties on the market.” At present, the number of homes for sale is 1% lower than on 7 March.