London estate agents saw “phones ringing off the hook”, and record numbers of enquiries in the 48-hours after property viewings restarted in England. A large increase in new instructions and valuations has also been reported.
It is believed that more than 450,000 house sales were put on hold when the government introduced its coronavirus restrictions on 23 March, in transactions worth an estimated £80 billion.
Announcing plans to resume the housing market, Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick said: “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,”
Removal companies and surveyors are allowed to work again, as are tradespeople and fitters, meaning sellers can begin preparing their homes for sale.
Millions of home buyers and renters took up their property searches within hours of the relaxation. According to property portal, Rightmove there were 5.2 million visits to its listings on Wednesday 13 May, the day when trading resumed. This is a 4% increase on the same day last year.
Demand for homes to rent has also increased dramatically, with the portal recording its highest number of enquiries since September.
Miles Shipside from Rightmove said: “The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum.”
But as the market restarts, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants are getting used to a new normal. Virtual viewings will be encouraged with restrictions placed on physical visits to properties. Face masks, sanitising of door furniture and vacant viewings will also continue to be the order of the day.
Read more about this story on the Homes & Property website.