The housing market will remain open during lockdown 3, despite some of the harshest measures since March 2020 being imposed in England.
Covid-safe home viewings and appraisals for sales and lettings properties are still possible, surveys can go ahead and home moves will also be allowed to continue during the current lockdown, which was announced by Boris Johnson last night.
From tomorrow, January 6, England enters a period of strict lockdown to halt the surge in coronavirus cases surpassing the previous peak in spring last year.
Mark Hayward, chief policy adviser of industry body Propertymark welcomed the news that the housing market would stay open during this lockdown but stressed it was essential that agents follow all the guidance on how to safely work to limit the spread of Covid-19.
In the first lockdown estate agents were forced to close for seven weeks between March and May 2020, while all but essential home moves were banned. The government also advised against having builders or decorators working in your home at that time.
However, as soon as those restrictions were lifted, home sales and moves boomed, a result partly of pent-up demand, partly of the cooped-up masses realising they needed gardens and home offices as a matter of urgency.
Rishi Sunak also announced a stamp duty holiday up to £500,000, giving a tax break of up to £15,000 to tens of thousands of home buyers. This has led to a severe backlog in processing sales with fears that thousands of sales will fail to complete before the stamp duty holiday deadline on March 31.
“For the many people currently caught up in a race to complete before the stamp duty deadline, leaving the property market open will come as a great relief,” said Dominic Agace, chief executive of Winkworth.
“With mortgage approvals in November at levels not seen since 2007, this could affect record numbers of families and first-time buyers, for whom missing the deadline and incurring extra costs could have a significant impact, as well a huge additional disruption to people’s lives.
“Hopefully, the Government recognises that with the right Covid secure policies in place, ensuring PPE is worn and social distancing is maintained, the housing market can continue to operate safely and provide a bright spot for people in a pretty grim year.”
Former RICS chairman, estate agent Jeremy Leaf called on the Chancellor to extend the stamp duty holiday deadline, saying the latest lockdown would cause inevitable delays in some home moves.
He said: “While the property market remains open for business, the new lockdown will have some impact on surveyors, removals firms etc and in the circumstances, it would be prudent for the Chancellor to reconsider the stamp duty deadline. Those who have moved heaven and earth to meet the deadline should not now be penalised if they miss it through no fault of their own.”