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Following lockdown, the housing market was the first sector of the economy to reopen. From 13 May, house viewings and moving home received the green light, and the construction industry were allowed to return to work – of course, all subject to social distancing and other government guidance.
Since then, the market has boomed, largely fuelled by the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday. According to mortgage lender Nationwide, in October, house prices rose at their fastest rate for five years, with buyers racing to beat the 31 March stamp duty deadline. This has accelerated annual house price growth to 5.8%, taking the average price to a record £227,826.
Now, subject to parliamentary approval – which is pretty much guaranteed – a new four week lockdown will begin on 5 November. But unlike before, the housing market will remain open. While this issue was not covered specifically by the Prime Minister in his announcement on Saturday, and the government’s website remains silent on the issue, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, Tweeted:
“Q: Can I still move house? A: Yes – the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.”
That guidance can be found here.
BLB property specialist, Victoria Cranwell, said:
“Whilst it’s very welcome news that the market will remain open, particularly for those with transactions underway, it’s inevitable that challenges will continue to present themselves. Currently, the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases, compounded by their contacts having to quarantine, poses more of a risk to moving home than the new lockdown.
“With that in mind, it’s advisable to contact others involved in the process, including removal companies, mortgage lenders and surveyors, to ascertain whether they anticipate any problems, to clarify their contingency plans if staff are off sick or in quarantine, and whether there is any action that you can take at this or a later stage to help keep everything on track. Transparency between all parties involved is going to be crucial in keeping transactions moving as smoothly as possible.”