Heading into March, the UK housing market was showing the kind of green shoots appropriate for the start of spring, with 103,870 residential property transactions recorded in February, 4.5% higher than in January and 6% higher than February 2019, according to the latest data from HMRC.
But the coronavirus has understandly put a dampner on the housing market, with homebuyers, including buy-to-let investors, holding off from purchasing property, amid widespread uncertainty.
Shaun Church, director at Private Finance, commented: “We had a strong start to 2020, as the property market enjoyed the nascent Boris Bounce following the election result, the end of parliamentary paralysis, and a little less Brexit uncertainty.
“But the lockdown has understandably put buyers’ plans on pause, so realistically the months ahead are likely to be a case of watching and waiting for a return to normality, from the safety of our current homes.
“While fewer people are going to be able to move, borrowers sitting at home may take the time to consider their finances and reflect on what mortgage options are best for them. Now would be a good time for borrowers to consider remortgaging, seeking expert advice to find the best product to suit their individual needs.”
The pickup in the housing market witnessed in January and February now seem like “a distant reality”, according to Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen.
He said: “Viewings have plummeted as potential buyers back away from visiting properties where the risk of infection is unknown while sellers baulk at the possibility of letting strangers into their homes. Further, given the economic uncertainty, many potential buyers are deciding that the significant outlay in money and time required to buy a house just isn’t worth it.
“But for all the real problems and dangers Covid-19 presents to people and the economy, we do want to take time to praise the existing technologies which are relieving a degree of market pressure. For example, through virtual viewings which are protecting all parties in the homebuying process. There is no doubt that the months ahead will be challenging for businesses and consumers, but ultimately, it is technology that can provide the flexibility and resilience to operate in a rapidly changing world.”