The prospect of house sales in the short to medium terms is relatively easy to judge, because we are working with house buyers and sellers alike every day, so their motivations and the drivers of the market conditions are there for us to interpret. Much harder is the outlook beyond six months or a year.
We can therefore say with confidence that the initial period post lockdown is likely to show positive levels of house sales activity, which given the impact on society of Covid-19 is an outcome I would not have predicted about two months ago.
Will There Be A V Shaped Recovery?
People appear to have a determination to defeat the virus by following through with their ambitions and dreams, as if demonstrating their defiance of it in their actions. I have also seen other wider economy indicators, simply based on discussions I have had with business leaders based in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. From local builders who are seeing new commissions for house extensions, to web designers who can’t cope with the level of new work coming their way there are more and more business people saying their order books are filling up once more.
The irrepressible human spirit to fight back is not something to underestimate, so there might be a better initial recovery that first anticipated. Perhaps not a capital V shaped recovery, but at least a snappy lower case one. That doesn’t mean we are not in for a long haul in the broader economic sense, but I am nevertheless convinced that people will strive to make the best of their lives especially as Covid-19 has reminded us just how fragile and even fleeting life can be.
House Viewings Recommence
The Governments announcements today has given the green lights to allow house viewings to recommence, but these will occur with strict social distancing protocols.
House buyers will soon be able to view their houses of choice and some of the social distancing protocols will include, and once a viewer has confirmed that they have no symptoms or have had no contact with anyone with symptoms for the past 14 days the following protocols will apply.
• Only one viewer can be present at a time, no children will be allowed in a property (this is because avoiding the touching of surfaces is difficult with young children).
• The owner/tenant will leave property for the viewing.
• We will supply the viewer with disposable gloves and mask subject to our supply allowing for this.
• The viewers will be allowed to walk around and ask not to touch anything.
• In order to maintain social distancing, the agent will not be able to enter every room with the viewer.
• When the viewing is completed, the agent will lock up property and leave and dispose of gloves and use hand sanitiser.
The House Market / Buyer Attitudes
You might be surprised to hear of the level of buyers who have agreed a property purchase on houses they viewed pre-lockdown, especially on new homes. From around £400,000 to £3.5m. house sales have been agreed so I remain impressed with the resilience of house buyers, who continue to remain upbeat about their moving plans.
Furthermore, 95% of the sales arranged we had in place at the start of lockdown, continue to remain in place with vendors and purchasers keeping focused on the opportunity to exchange and complete sometime soon.
The biggest emerging market is likely to be from people wanting to leave London and other large cities or towns, to find a new home in a rural or village setting, yet remain within reasonable distance of London etc. That is a positive for the home owners we act for on the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders, especially those who live in property worth between £1.5m. and 6m. in our area of operation
Re-Opening High Street Branches
We will gradually open our high street property showrooms, but this will be done cautiously and with strict social distancing protocols. Currently we are able to get houses to the market and conduct viewings without the need for our branches to be open, so we are planning the physical openings around the 1st June.
The biggest lesson during lockdown, was just how effectively we can operate with technology such as Zoom and Skype, so any gradual return to the high street branches will not interfere with our productivity uptake.
The Weeks Ahead
In the week ahead we will be giving special focus to our new homes selection of properties for sale, and also cater for the emerging market of house buyers leaving London for rural living.
So if you are thinking of selling a home in the rural or semi-rural areas of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, then contact us by email for a free no obligation property appraisal.
John Holden – Chairman