The latest advice from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is that “homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus.”
The new guidance house moves in the UK states, “Given the situation in the UK with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus, we urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.
“There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times, including the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding.
“Prioritising the health of individuals and the public must be the priority.
“Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance in this document on home removals.
“Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus will no longer be in place.”
However, the government advice also states, “In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.
“Our advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree to a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
“If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
“In line with government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible.
“All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.”
The news has already caused some lenders, such as Virgin Money to suspended all new mortgage applications until the crisis has passed.
Research by estate agent comparison site, GetAgent.co.uk, shows that based on transactions over quarter two of last year, this could see nearly 300,000 property sales fall by the wayside as buyers and sellers across the UK are unable to transact.
The most severe impact will be across England where last year 237,820 transactions were recorded in the three months between April and June.
Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short said, “The Government obviously feels this latest advice is required to help halt the spread of the Coronavirus and it should, of course, be adhered to where at all possible.
“This may only be a temporary measure but for those who had already tackled the protracted process of selling only to see their sale or purchase sidelined on the home stretch, it will be a worrying few months.
“Historic data shows the market could see some 290,000 transactions at risk although, given the early signs of market buoyancy since the election, this could well be in excess of 300,000.
“Our advice would be to keep calm, be patient and stick with it. This is a development that impacts both buyer and seller so hopefully, those property sales that have already been agreed should still materialise once normality returns; bringing a huge boost to transactions in the third and fourth quarters of the year.
“It is now down to the nation’s estate agents to demonstrate their worth by acting as the lynchpin between both buyers and sellers to keep them as informed as possible via any and all channels of communication.”
However, coronavirus has led to a 40% drop in demand for housing in the past week [seven days to 22.03.20 compared to seven says to 15.03.20] and housing transactions are set to drop by as much as 60% over the next three months, as the market reacts to the impact of the outbreak.