Home moves grind to a halt! Face-to-face property viewings banned as buyers due to complete are left in coronavirus limbo
- EXCLUSIVE: All face-to-face property viewings have been stopped
- No house moves can take place unless considered to be essential
- It leaves those who have exchanged on a property purchase in limbo
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The housing market has effectively been shut down after the Government told all estate and lettings agents to stop viewings.
It also said no house moves can take place unless considered to be essential and buyers who have exchanged contracts and are waiting to complete have been left in limbo.
The Government said no face-to-face viewings must take place among those looking to buy or sell a house or rent a property.
But estate agents said they urgently need more clarification as to what should happen for those who have already committed to imminent moves, whether purchases or tenancies.
No house moves can take place amid the coronavirus outbreak unless considered essential
The British Association of Removers said that only moves which are currently under way should be completed. Many removal companies are therefore cancelling all future moves for the time being.
It means that the property market will grind to a halt, as the public is told to stay in their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Experts explained that estate agents and letting agents were deemed ‘non-essential’ businesses under Government guidelines.
It means they must close their offices and make their staff work from home.
It leaves those people who are in the middle of a house purchase or about to move into a new rental property unsure of what will happen.
Many are calling for further information on the guidance, which is not be clear as it could be, particularly those with moves due.
For example, what does this mean for those homeowners who have exchanged contracts and are due to compete on their purchase within days?
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, called for clarification, saying that there will be circumstances where people are told it is not possible to move despite having exchanged contracts on a purchase or committed to a rental agreement.
Estate agents called for more clarification for those who have already committed to moving
He told MailOnline Property: ‘If the property you are moving to is not vacant, then you will not be able to take possession.
‘Someone may be in it with the virus and unable to move, or you may want it cleaned if the vendor had the virus.’
He added: ‘The whole world is on hold. The Government has announced measures to help businesses but has provided no detail behind them.
‘We are waiting on guidance as to the essential visits that agents may take, such as gas safety amid other such inspections.
‘Agents are told to close their offices, not their business. The majority are working remotely as are their staff.’
It follows several announcements affecting the housing market in the wake of the virus crisis.
These include a ban on evicting tenants for three months if they can’t pay their rent and mortgage holidays for both homeowners and landlords.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick declined to comment on the agency closures.
At the same time, there is some encouraging news, with one expert saying that the pause in proceedings may give people to analyse their moving decisions.
There has been a ban on evicting tenants for three months if they can’t pay their rent
Mortgage holidays for both homeowners and landlords have already been announced
Ben Johnston, director of off-market property app Houso, said: ”Those who were looking to buy and sell just a few weeks ago will, broadly speaking, still be looking to move when this is over.
‘Indeed, as we are expected to stay at home for the foreseeable future, we have more time on our hands to look at property online and may be spending many hours eyeing our own homes in a critical fashion.
‘It could be that after the restrictions are lifted more people wish to move and change their lifestyle – perhaps leaving an urban environment for the countryside – rather than fewer.’