Housebuilders lay foundations for recovery after pandemic brings market to a standstill

Linda J. Dodson

The surge in interest came as the Government eased restrictions on property viewings and valuations, allowing house buyers in England to visit estate agents or show homes for the first time since March.

A reopening of the sector is a key part of the Prime Minister’s plans to jumpstart the economy.

It followed seven weeks of gridlock which put a halt to all non-essential house moves and banned agents from listing new properties. Yet the immediate rebound in searches for property reflects confidence among buyers, despite the prolonged shutdown of the market, Teagle says.

“There has been a profound impact on the housing market over the last few weeks but demand is still there. That is especially apparent in the new-build market,” he says. “The range of mortgage products that is available – having initially gone down – has now come back up again.

“What we’re seeing is people are continuing to reserve, purchase and exchange homes, albeit not at the level that it was pre-recession.”

Experts say the biggest challenge that developers face will be learning how to work and co-exist with the virus, including how to operate viewings and building sites while abiding by social distancing rules.

Plans for a careful reopening of the property market in England have seen estate agents focus on virtual viewings, with sellers later expected to follow new safety precautions.

New guidelines require sellers to vacate the property while viewings are taking place, leaving all doors open and light switches on. Buyers are advised not to touch anything and must bring their own hand sanitiser. A ban on open house viewings remains.

Removal men have also been issued with new guidance, including being told to wear gloves and face masks.

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