The Government has announced England's housing market is once again open for business (with strings attached). But is it the right move? Have your say below.
Estate agents across England will be out in their droves once more after the Government announced a partial easing of the housing lockdown.
Since late March, the entire UK market has effectively been shut down as a result of the pandemic, but new rules coming into effect this morning mean buyers, sellers and tenants in England can pick up where they left off a few weeks ago.
But is this the right move? Has the Government acted too soon? Should it have done so sooner?
We’d like to know your thoughts on the matter: if you've already made up your mind, please scroll straight to the end to vote in our poll and share your comments.
But if you'd like to learn a bit more about what's changed, let’s run through the key announcements first.
Housing restrictions eased – in England
From today (13 May), estate agents can once again start arranging viewings, sellers and landlords can list their properties, while conveyancers and removal firms can physically visit properties.
So if I put my house on the market can my mum come round and see her grandson? https://t.co/SrBlxroatD— James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) May 12, 2020
However, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stressed the need for everyone to strictly follow social distancing rules.
"This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so," he said.
Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said the new rules should “provide the property market with a much-needed boost after the lockdown period.”
He added: “From today, surveyors can enter the home to complete valuations, renters and prospective buyers can view properties and removals can once again assist people in their moves.
“Reallowing surveyors to enter homes as long as a distance of two metres is maintained means that physical valuations can get going again.
“Some lenders, such as HSBC, have already confirmed that valuations are starting to be booked in.”
Crucially, all these changes only apply to England so restrictions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain unchanged at the time of publishing.
Is now the right time to change?
Whether or not this is the right time – or even the right decision – is impossible to say conclusively at this early stage. It's a question of weighing up the risks against the potential benefits.
However, two things we do know for certain are that there is huge pent-up demand for properties and that the freeze is costing the Government a lot of money at a time when its spending is going through the roof.
To address the first point, property site Zoopla has estimated that around 373,000 planned property sales have been put on ice as a result of the lockdown.
And, of course, spring is usually a busy time for the property market when a lot of people want to move.
Separately, research from certain estate agents has put the cost to the Government in Stamp Duty receipts anywhere between £2.5 billion and £5 billion.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting the Government is risking people’s lives in order to boost its coffers, merely that if it truly feels it is safe to ease restrictions then this would be a secondary factor to encourage them.
This is true. But allowing a rotating group of strangers to visit another stranger’s house in short order is ludicrously inconsistent with everything we’ve told for last 7 weeks. Moving into an empty house, tho, I get.— James Hall (@JamesFHall) May 13, 2020
Yup - with you there.— James Hall (@JamesFHall) May 13, 2020
So, there are many people wanting to move, which in turn could raise much-needed funds, but we are still in a grey area of the lockdown where it’s unclear what actions are deemed risks worth taking.
Where do you stand on today’s announcement? Please vote in our poll below and take the time to explain your decision in the comments section.
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