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Property market staying open during lockdown – first reactions

The property market will continue to run despite the government introducing new lockdown measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed people to stay at home where possible, while schools and nonessential shops have been closed.

However, viewings are still possible, while surveys are still being allowed to go ahead.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Unlike the first lockdown, estate agents remain open for business and both sellers and buyers are still keen to proceed with their transactions.

“With lawyers, valuers, and agents all still working, this should limit any further delays to transactions.

“It is now down to the comfort level of sellers in terms of allowing potential buyers to view their homes and buyers feeling comfortable attending viewings. Extra caution will be taken on all sides to allow viewings to proceed.”

He added: “Our appetite to lend has not changed whatsoever. We feel the market won’t be disrupted as it was last year because there is an end in sight, thanks to the rollout of the vaccine programme.

“This, along with the fact that valuers and solicitors can still work and there is still access to properties, should provide further confidence for the housing market as a whole. Borrowers, in turn, will feel more confident that their transactions will complete.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, and a former RICS residential chairman, does expect the property market to be impacted.

He said: “While the property market remains open for business, the new lockdown will have some impact on surveyors, removals firms, etc and in the circumstances, it would be prudent for the Chancellor to reconsider the stamp duty deadline.

“Those who have moved heaven and earth to meet the deadline should not now be penalised if they miss it through no fault of their own.”

Paul Offley, compliance officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, said estate agents have a moral obligation to work as safely as possible, given the situation.

He said: “With the rate of infections increasing once again due to the highly contagious variant of Covid-19 making its way through the country, now more than ever agents have an obligation to continue to act within a safe manner to ensure that they are protecting the public and doing what they can to minimise the spread of the virus.

“While physical viewings may be permitted by the government, given the current circumstances and resurgence of the virus, agents should ensure that physical viewings only take place as the very last step once they have gone through much of the process with potential buyers virtually.

“In fact, I would go as far as to say that in the current situation with the increased rate of infections, agents have a moral obligation to ensure that all buyers are taken through the process of virtually viewing a property before any face-to-face appointment takes place.

“Buyers should also consider whether there is a genuine need for the appointment to take place now or consider whether the appointment could be deferred until restrictions are eased.”