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Viewings collapsing due to coronavirus

House viewings have rapidly declined due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to anecdotal evidence from estate agents.

However, many home sales appear to still be going through.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Viewings are probably down 50% now, rather than the 25% we saw a week ago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that buyers and sellers are not getting on with moving.

“For instance, we managed to secure four exchanges of contract on Thursday and Friday of last week. All parties asked the ‘what if’ question about completion but all decided to proceed nonetheless.

“A note of caution about some of the upbeat housing market surveys, as events are fast outpacing optimistic market reports, many of which relate to events of a month or more ago.

“We are not seeing sales or listings being cancelled widely yet. On the ground, most customers are just hoping the virus will be relatively temporary and not medium or longer-term.

“If employees are laid off or made redundant and businesses close then bigger decisions will have to be made and there may be a more noticeable market correction. But at the moment most seem to be hanging on in there.”

The experience has been similar for Patrick Alvarado, director of prime central London estate agency Nicolas Van Patrick.

He said: “Viewings have pretty much dried up over the past week but that said, the deals under offer are still being done.

“We exchanged on a £1.5m flat in Cranley Gardens on Thursday and sold another on Brompton Road on Friday, which has been on the market for three years, at the asking price.

“If it wasn’t for the virus, we would all be saying we expect a busy year, particularly with the 2% stamp duty surcharge coming in for non-UK purchasers from April 2021.”

Guy Meacock, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, said: “Some viewings are being cancelled in London and there is a feeling that it has brought any perceived Boris Bounce to an end.

“Activity may be on ice until the autumn when there will hopefully be more clarity.”

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