Rightmove: Sellers pause rather than cancel activity
Most sellers already on the market, and those with a sale already agreed, are continuing with their plans to move once it is deemed safe enough, Rightmove’s House Price Index has found.
Despite the lockdown total stock for sale has only fallen by 2.6% since the lockdown.
Rightmove said there weren’t enough properties coming to market to calculate seller asking prices, the number coming to market or new sales agreed.
Pre-lockdown sales were up 11% year-on-year up to 23 March, as the market has gone from having the best start since 2016 to new sales being almost impossible.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “Agents report that there is good co-operation, with both buyers and sellers keen to hold deals together.
“While some buyers may express concern over the possibility of short-term dips in house prices, many are taking the longer-term view and living up to their commitments to proceed.
“This is being helped by mortgage lenders extending the life of existing mortgage offers by three months, and new legal rules on flexible completion dates.”
In order for the market to make a strong return once the lockdown ends, Rightmove said there must be a continuation of mortgage lending on the same terms as before the lockdown, aided by government incentives.
Meanwhile there should be forbearance by lenders to limit forced sales until employment levels recover.
Finally the industry will need to find ways of allowing viewings safely, as social distancing measures may continue for some time.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The latest Rightmove survey confirms what we have been seeing on the ground – our offices may be closed but the market is anything but quiet. Buyers and sellers are pausing, not cancelling sales, or listings, while continuing to access websites readying themselves for when lockdown restrictions are eased.
“But the market cannot re-start in isolation. We need surveyors to work with lenders, agents, and solicitors to ensure successful transitions as well as continuation of social distancing and safe visiting.”