Here’s how the coronavirus pandemic has affected house prices and the property market

Here’s how the coronavirus pandemic has affected house prices and the property market
Thousands of moves have been put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic (Shutterstock)

On Monday the government introduced strict social distancing measures which discouraged the public from leaving their houses and saw the closures of non-essential businesses, causing disruption to the property market

Here’s everything you need to know about how house moves have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the government advice on moving house during lockdown?

Speaking on March 24 cabinet minister Michael Gove said advised people looking to move house to delay if possible.

He said: “There will be specific circumstances where people will still be buying or selling, but if at all possible people should stay in their current home.”
Speaking a day later Housing Minister Robert Jenrick clarified the government’s stance.

He said, saying that parties should all “show pragmatism.

He said: “Buyers & renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place.

“If you’re socially isolating or being shielded, it’s important to try to delay. Other parties should show pragmatism.

“If moving is unavoidable because you’re contracted and the parties aren’t able to agree a delay, you must follow advice on social distancing when moving.”

But what if I’ve already exchanged contracts?

New homebuyers who have already signed a contract should contact your solicitor and other parties to attempt to delay the move.

Although a legally binding contract has already been signed it should be possible to vary the contract so long as both parties agree to do so.

Property expert Henry Pryor told Which? that it is possible to add a clause agreeing a delay to the move by a sensible amount of time.

Are removal firms still operating?

Removal firms have been encouraged by the British Association of Removals advised their members to “only complete any moves that are underway and immediately cancel or postpone any move that has not yet started.”

Explaining the decision, they said: “It is evident that our collective and absolute priority now must be on ensuring the safety of the staff and customers of our Members, and of course their respective families, and so all parties must now make every immediate effort to remove the risk for mover and consumer alike at the very earliest opportunity.”

Removal firms are still able to operate at their own discretion, however.

It remains unclear whether removal firms are deemed essential work by the government.

Can I still view properties?

Estate agents across the country have been forced to close following the announcement of a near-lockdown.

Estate agents when possible will continue to work from home, but viewings of properties for the forseeable future appear to be off limits.

What will coronavirus do to property prices?

One top economist has warned that the wider impact of the coronavirus pandemic could see the rise in UK property prices could come to “a juddering halt”.

Hoard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club said: “The late-2019, early-2020 upturn in the housing market looks certain to be brought to a juddering halt by the impact of coronavirus on the economy,”

Miles Robinson of online property sellers Trussle also told City AM: “Pressure is mounting on the economy as the coronavirus outbreak escalates. As it stands, we’re yet to see its full impact on the housing market.

“With more stringent government guidelines now in place… sellers may see a drop in property viewings for at least three weeks.”