As part of the new laws around social distancing, potential buyers are unable to view a property in person. This has had a major impact on estate agents.
However, a number of sales and purchases are still being agreed where properties have been previously viewed or where people are carrying out online viewings. In addition, new build sales and purchases continue to take place with Thursfields having been instructed on two new build purchases in the last week.
Nevertheless, there are limits to such transactions. With many people postponing their house move during this uncertain time, the impact on estate agents, particularly those on the high street, could be devastating.
The market was also dealt a further blow as many high street mortgage lenders began withdrawing offers issued to customers, including high loan to value offers. For example, Nationwide initially withdrew all loans with a loan to value above 75% and Virgin stopped all new mortgages on purchases.
The good news however is that lenders such as Nationwide, Halifax, Virgin and Santander have begun to reopen their doors to borrowers, with Nationwide resuming loans at 85% loan to value and Halifax also raising its loan to value level to 85%. Virgin has begun to offer mortgages again and Santander has increased its maximum loan size to £500,000.00.
Whilst we have seen a number of transactions understandably withdrawn due to Covid-19, the majority have been put on hold for 3-4 weeks in anticipation of restrictions being relaxed. The welcome news this week with regard to lending criteria is the boost the housing market needs at this time and can only serve as a positive step towards post lockdown recovery.
Can we continue?
As of this moment, the answer is yes. A number of transactions that do not require the movement of people, or where this can be done following social distancing guidelines, are still proceeding. This includes any transfers, purchases of freeholds, purchases of empty properties or investment properties with existing tenants, and charges.
We have many clients who wish to proceed so, once we return to some semblance of normality, their sales and purchases will be ready for them and business can continue. Some clients, who are looking to move properties, are exchanging contracts and setting completion dates in 2 or 3 months time, whilst others are asking us to bring their transaction up to exchange so that a completion date can be agreed once lockdown has been lifted.
At Thursfields we have been agile working for some time and have seamlessly switched to working from home. We are using secure online connections which allow us to conduct business by email and over the telephone. We are also equipped to carry out Zoom, Facetime or other video meetings, should you need us to do so. In addition, robust systems and processes are in place to ensure we continue to follow internal procedures and are able to make a positive difference to our clients.
With all of the above in mind you can be confident in the knowledge that Thursfields Residential Property Team are here and that we can get your work done.