What does England’s lockdown 2.0 mean for the property market?
With England entering its second lockdown today, there is an uncertainty of how this will impact our economy, especially in the lead up to Christmas. In his announcement on 31st October, the Prime Minister declared that all non-essential stores and businesses would be forced to close until the 2nd December. This has thrown the general public into turmoil at the potential losses and financial difficulties this will impose on business owners during this difficult time, however, in an interesting exception, the property market has permission to continue operations whilst maintaining Government guidelines and essential safety measures.
Throughout November, estate agents, construction sites, and trade workers can all operate and conduct business as normal, as long as they operate within Government guidelines pertaining to Covid-19. In a recent tweet, the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, stated that throughout Lockdown 2.0:
“Renters & homeowners will be able to move
Removal firms and estate agents can operate
Construction sites can and should continue
Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
But all must follow the Covid safety guidance” As part and parcel with estate agents' operations to continue, valuations and viewings are still permitted to be held within homes, ensuring that only one household enters the premises with the estate agent at a time, and all surfaces are disinfected between viewings. Estate agents are also expected to leave ample time between viewings, making sure that one is not scheduled directly after the other, giving the property an opportunity to air out and be cleaned. It is no surprise that the property market has been allowed to continue operations throughout the second lockdown, as an important catalyst in ensuring the economy stays afloat throughout November. It also exemplifies the faith and commitment to continuing the mini-boom we are experiencing in the market by the Government, even amidst the mortgage repayment holiday extension for another 6 months. Despite many claims of the property market succumbing to the previous lockdown, there is evidence to suggest otherwise; as “despite the market closure between March – mid-May, 2% more sales have been agreed so far this year than the same period in 2019”. Therefore, this is not just a release of delayed pent-up demand, but proof of additional interest and financial investment in the market. Rightmove have also seen a 49% increase in traffic to their website and are predicting the annual growth rate to peak at 7% by December. Throughout October, there were more properties marked as ‘sold’ than ‘available for sale’ for the first time ever, with sales up by 70% from last year, as the number of sales agreed last month were the highest agreed, ever. With buyers seemingly “willing to pay record prices for properties that fit their changed post-lockdown needs”, the market appears to be maintaining momentum throughout these uncertain times and will likely continue into 2021. With Halifax’s house price index release tomorrow, we are likely to see a further affirmation of the market’s current comfortable state and continuation. Stay safe.