Coronavirus has officially sent the UK into lockdown and now the government is advising against moving home in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The government said that while there "is no need to pull out of transactions", "we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times". People may go through with their house purchase if the property is vacant, although they must ensure they are following guidelines with regards to home removals. If the house is occupied, the government says "we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move".
Before the government had their say, concerns around germs had already had an impact on house sales. Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of buyers Garrington Property Finders says, "We've heard of a few vendors cancelling visits because they don't want strangers in their homes at the moment, but they are very much in the minority."
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And financial concerns are ongoing. According to Halifax, house prices hit a record high in February following a bounce back from Brexit concerns. But where buyers were previously worried about the uncertainty of property prices surrounding Brexit, they are now worried about the effects of coronavirus on sales chains. Will their buyer stay confident in purchasing, or will they fear being made redundant as coronavirus causes certain businesses to collapse? Buying a property is a big decision, and the uncertainty of coronavirus means that many are taking the safe option and staying put.
A spokeswoman for agency Chestertons said the Brexit rebound continues to flourish and its Fulham office saw a record 22 deals in February, but they have seen some cases fall through. "Coronavirus impacted our business for the first time on Wednesday," she told the Evening Standard. "Stealing away a sale that was just days away from exchanging, the buyer worked in the events industry which is being rocked by large numbers of cancellations. He was unfortunately told his job was at risk."
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People are less willing to attend house viewings amid concerns over germs
As the UK lockdown means many people are out of work, the chancellor announced that the country would be funding grants of £10,000 to £25,000 for small businesses, while mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday for anyone in financial trouble.
Since the outbreak only started at the end of January, February's house sale numbers aren't entirely representative of the effect of coronavirus, so March will provide a clearer insight. Meanwhile, estate agents are remaining hopeful that, once the UK lockdown comes to an end, the post-Brexit bounce back will continue to thrive.
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