Most sellers are pressing ahead with plans to move once lockdown restrictions have been
lifted, according to Rightmove’s House Price Index.
Indeed, since the lockdown was implemented, the total housing stock on the market has
fallen by just 2.6%, indicating that there is still a strong appetite among both sellers currently on the market and those who have a sale agreement in place.
Rightmove has also pointed out that there were not enough properties coming to market to
allow asking prices, the number coming to market or new sales agreed to be calculated.
The market began 2020 in positive fashion, enjoying its best start to a year since 2016
before entering its current state in which new sales are virtually impossible. Sales were up
11% year-on-year up to March 23.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “Agents report that there is good cooperation, with both buyers and sellers keen to hold deals together.
“While some buyers may express concern over the possibility of short-term dips in house
prices, many are taking the longer-term view and living up to their commitments to proceed.
“This is being helped by mortgage lenders extending the life of existing mortgage offers by
three months, and new legal rules on flexible completion dates.”
Rightmove says that, in order for the market to return strongly following lockdown, mortgage lending must continue on the same terms as before, aided by government incentives.
Meanwhile there should be forbearance by lenders to limit forced sales until employment levels recover.
Finally, new ways of allowing viewings will need to be thought up by the industry, particularly if current social distancing measures remain in place long-term.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The
latest Rightmove survey confirms what we have been seeing on the ground – our offices
may be closed but the market is anything but quiet. Buyers and sellers are pausing, not
cancelling sales, or listings, while continuing to access websites readying themselves for
when lockdown restrictions are eased.
“But the market cannot restart in isolation. We need surveyors to work with lenders, agents, and solicitors to ensure successful transitions as well as continuation of social distancing and safe visiting.”