After being in my Headingley office following the new year break for all of 24 hours, I’m now back to working from home. Lockdown 3 initiated yet another Health & Safety Policy Review at Moores Estate Agents and the Board of Directors (all four of us!) voted unanimously to reinstate the policy we adopted in Lockdown 1. Virtually everyone would work from home bar three of the team who can work well apart. They are also needed to sort out keys for contractors, deal with any server issues, etc. The investment we made in laptops and ‘plug & play’ wireless phones has paid-off yet again.

With the new variant of the Coronavirus we are ‘doing our bit’. We are limiting valuations and viewings to those which are essential at this time. Empty properties are easy to deal with. Occupied properties, especially Houses in Multiple Occupation less so, pose a much higher degree of risk when it comes to being exposed to the virus.

Our policy however does not seem to be hindering productive activity a great deal. I am writing this at just after ‘close of play’ on the 13th January. Since reopening for business on the 4th January we’ve listed 5 properties, booked 36 physical viewings with proceedable applicants, taken 17 offers, closed 8 deals and have a number of properties in the middle of negotiations which we hope to close on soon. What would it be like without Coronavirus?

Should You Sell Your Home Right Now?

There are many potential sellers not allowing people into their homes for either valuations or viewings at present. There are many more who want to move house but know that a significant number of potential buyers are not house hunting just now. Whether they’re heeding the Government’s call to ‘Stay at Home’, they or one of their family have Covid-19, or they’re isolating, we don’t know. With a reduced level of demand how can one be sure of achieving full market value? Therefore, if it’s not essential to list your property right now, I would suggest waiting a month or two, when I have confidence the market will be even stronger as lockdown restrictions ease.

How Will The Lockdown Affect Property Sales?

Things may change sooner rather than later of course. Government have made noises about ‘closing’ the housing market as part of the extra lockdown measures they say they have ‘up their sleeves’.

If they do ‘close’ the housing market, I sincerely hope they specifically exclude ‘pipeline’ agreed sales. We need most pipeline sales to complete by the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline of 31st March, otherwise buyers are going to face a significant tax liability. Government could move the deadline by a month or two to avoid this of course. It would be grossly unfair for buyers benefiting from the maximum Stamp Duty saving to have to find another £15,000 to complete a deal in April if their purchase is delayed by Government. For some buyers this wouldn’t be affordable, and either the seller would have to absorb some or all of the Stamp Duty cost, or the sale would collapse. My fear is this will not be thought through, and a knee-jerk policy change (we’ve seen a number recently!) will result in carnage in the housing market.

We have seen a significant rise in the number of tenants on our books with Covid-19 in the past 2 months. We were down in single figures during the summer and autumn, but we’ve seen an exponential growth recently. Thankfully, few are suffering badly from the virus, or they are simply isolating, although I am sorry to say not all have been so lucky. Our thoughts go out to all our clients who are suffering from this terrible pandemic and our condolences to those who have lost loved ones as a consequence.

With the vaccines now being distributed I hope to be able to end on a more positive note in our next Newsletter.

Stay safe.

– A Newsletter Editorial by Director Michael Moore FNAEA, MARLA.