The prolonged lockdown has caused house prices to fall, according to the latest monthly survey from the Halifax. The lender reported that values fell by 0.6 per cent in April, although year-on-year they were 2.7 per cent higher than the same month in 2019. This suggests it is still too early to see the real impact of coronavirus on the market, with next month’s figures likely to prove the real test.
While lockdown has made it almost impossible for viewings and valuations to be carried out, from a company point of view it has been ‘business as usual’ as far as we possibly can, while always observing social distancing. With most of our clients being ‘have to’ buyers or tenants rather than discretionary, we have worked hard and thought outside the box to find suitable solutions, particularly for the most urgent and critical of cases.
At PLG Consultants, we entered lockdown with a considerable number of motivated buyers and tenants ready to move just as soon as the right property was found. On the whole, they don’t have the luxury of time and waiting to see what happens to the market – they need somewhere suitable to live now, or as soon as we can find them somewhere. Our team has sourced properties for a number of these clients during lockdown. Two further clients who instructed us since lockdown have already been found properties, which given the tricky market has been nothing short of a miracle, even by PLG standards.
Keeping to social distancing rules is a challenge when it comes to viewing property. We have had had estate agents open the door of an (empty) property and then sit in the car while one of us has looked round, reporting back to the client with video and images posted to our ever-popular client site, along with our recommendations. Another agent supplied us with the key code to an empty property so one of the team could conduct a viewing to assess whether the property was suitable for our client. At an empty rental property, the landlord let me into the property and kept his distance during the viewing. I viewed it with the family from a social distance, and the deal and referencing were completed just 48 hours later.
We are not out at viewings all the time – we remain conscious of the fact that we can only do this with our very urgent cases. But in our line of work cases do tend to be urgent, with properties needed to be found and adapted often at very short notice.
Once lockdown is eased, it will become easier to do our jobs. The housing market will pick up again and any price falls are likely to correct themselves over time. But until then, we are on the end of the phone and always willing to listen and assist with a ‘can do’ attitude wherever we can.