The housing market will remain open during the four-week lockdown due to start from Thursday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed.
On Saturday (October 31) Mr Jenrick said on Twitter that the housing market would remain open throughout the period, after the prime minister’s announcement on new national coronavirus restrictions in England.
He later specified that renters and homeowners would be able to move, and that removal firms and estate agents could operate as long as they adhere to guidelines.
The news has been welcomed by the industry.
Kate Davies, executive director at IMLA, said: “While the country faces a second national lockdown, the government has rightly decided to keep Britain’s housing market open.
“Lenders, advisers, surveyors, and conveyancers are already experiencing unprecedented levels of demand from consumers eager to take advantage of the government’s stamp duty holiday, which is due to end on March 31, and also the Help to Buy scheme, which will be available only to first-time buyers from April 1.
“They now face the task of helping thousands more consumers potentially requesting payment deferrals as borrowers struggle to meet their mortgage repayments during the lockdown.
“Closing the housing market at this time would have only added to this pressure on the sector by creating yet another backlog of demand once lockdown ends.”
The initial lockdown effectively closed the property market in England between late March and mid-May, with restrictions on physical valuations impacting the availability of higher LTV lending.
Although the market will remain open, Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at Private Finance, raised the question over how many people would be viewing properties given the circumstances.
Mr Sykes added: “[This] is likely to entrench the current trends for those looking to move to houses with more space, both outdoors and to work remotely, and means areas outside major cities are likely to see higher demand than pre-Covid.”
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