Coronavirus UK: Housing markets set to re-open as lockdown lifts | City & Business | Finance

The lockdown measures were put in place by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 23.

Buyers and renters will be able to resume their moving plans after property viewings were halted as lockdown began.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said in a statement: “I am announcing new guidelines to allow the housing market to resume.

“Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals.

“This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so.”

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Setting out guidelines for England, the government said that from Wednesday estate agents’ offices could open, buyers and renters will be able to view properties in person, show homes could open and conveyancers and removals firms could return to work as long as social distancing guidelines were followed.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said last month that the housing market had been thrown into the deep freeze by the lockdown.

Rightmove, which typically advertises more than 90 percent of houses for sale on behalf of British estate agents, said new sales were almost impossible due to social distancing measures.

According to the government, more than 450,000 buyers and renters had been unable to progress their move plans since March.

Robert Jenrick also said steps would also be taken to boost construction, including allowing builders to agree more flexible site working hours with local authorities to stagger builders’ arrival times and ease pressure on public transport.

The government will also ease rules over how planning applications have to publicised.

They also plan to support smaller developers struggling with cash flow by allowing them to defer payments to local authorities.

At its highest point, some 65 per cent of UK sites by value had closed down, but last week that figure was down to 37 per cent, according to data provider Glenigan.

In the Sunday address, Boris Johnson announced that lockdown measures will begin tho progressively ease, and workers should begin to return.

He said: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.

“We must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

“So, work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”

As a result of the pandemic, a leading estate agent claimed house prices are forecast to fall 7 percent this year with much of the decline already having hit.

According to revised forecasts from estate agent Knight Frank, property values are likely to have already fallen by 5 percent since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, as the market ground to a halt.

But its predicted drop is considerably less than the Bank of England’s forecast last week that house prices in Britain would fall 16 per cent due to the coronavirus crisis.

Jonathan Hopper, of Garrington Property Finders, said in some locations ‘the price correction could be brutal’.

He said: “Strategic buyers sense that the COVID shock could trigger big price reductions, and that the post-lockdown market will be a buyers’ one.”

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