There has been some confusion regarding whether it is currently possible to buy property due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown which is in effect. The government has issued advice, but many property businesses are carrying on as close to normal as possible. Here we take a look at whether buying property is still a possibility in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
Buying is still possible!
The first thing to say here is a reassurance to anyone who is considering purchasing but does not feel sure about the current legal status: it is still completely possible to buy a property during the COVID-19 lockdown. The government has set out advice regarding property moves including the selling and buying process, and while some things have changed, the actual purchasing of the property is still allowed.
This will come as a relief to anyone who needs to move urgently or those who are already part of the way through a property purchase. However, while buying is possible things aren’t entirely clear cut. As mentioned above, the government has set out advice and this has the potential to make things a little trickier to buy.
What does government advice say?
The first thing to note is that the process of lockdown has a natural effect on limiting the ability of prospective homebuyers. Individuals are only allowed to leave their property in order to carry out shopping for essentials and for exercise once a day. So going to a viewing of a property would be in breach of lockdown measures.
However, the government has also set out specific information regarding the buying of properties. According to the government’s official advice: “there is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times”. And ultimately, this leads to the suggestion that: “home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus”.
The suggestion is that it is not so much the issue that the properties are being sold, rather that households should not be moving at this time. So while this can complicate many sales, it won’t stop all of them.
What is happening to property prices?
The result of the new challenges to buying a property is that there has been an incredibly sharp fall in property sales. In fact, according to some analysts, property sales have fallen by 70% due to the measures brought in to instigate lockdown.
And from this change, there has been a drop in property prices. Currently, the drop is predicted to be around 3%, but as this situation is so changeable, it is almost impossible to say how prices will be affected in the long term. This will certainly be something that could make buyers more interested in purchasing now, despite the challenges.
Are property-related businesses still operating?
Another issue that some potential homebuyers are worried is whether the businesses that are important for property purchasing are still operating. After all, it’s no good setting your heart on making a sale if estate agents and conveyancers are closing.
Of course, it is impossible to comment for everyone, but it is easy to find examples of all property-related businesses that are still operating during the lockdown. Hunters Estate Agents are typical. Their website states that they “are committed to maintaining business as usual in order to aid our customers, suppliers and staff in this difficult period and you can continue to contact us by phone or email and our other online facilities”.
Many estate agents, conveyancers, solicitors, and surveyors are still fully operational at this time but are simply adapting how they work to ensure that they can continue with appropriate social distancing.
It’s actually a very favourable time for buyers
It is also worth noting that now is actually what could be considered a very favourable time to buy. There is no doubt that as many fewer people are considering the option of moving, this really has become a buyer’s market, as those who have vacant properties or need to move for another reason, are still interested in selling but lack interested parties.
It is also the case that interest rates are currently at historic lows. This makes borrowing very attractive currently.
Ultimately, the government recommends that property sales should be delayed. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the details cannot be agreed now, and then the sale can go through after the crisis is over. There is no reason to avoid at least considering property purchases and looking into the options available to you.