Many buyers, sellers, and landlords are understandably unsure about how to proceed in the current property market, given the current coronavirus outbreak and various changes in recent months. So, we thought we’d help you all out and give you a low down on what to expect from your estate agent.
What Is The Current State of The Real Estate Market?
Despite the covid chaos, the property market is thriving, thanks to the Stamp Duty Holiday, which has now been extended to September 2021.
This hasn’t changed structurally since the busy first few months of the year. While some obstacles must be solved and new working methods must be embraced, many people are searching for their perfect home. Buyers and sellers have been in high demand to move, and this has continued despite recent restrictions.
The Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.1 percent, making mortgages more affordable and lowering repayment rates.
New Technology And Processes For Estate Agents In The UK
During the lockdown, the property industry had no choice but to evolve, and many new ways of operating were introduced. Estate agents in the UK can now hold virtual viewings to generate interest in properties on the market, and those who want an in-person viewing can schedule one using new software and apps.
Alternatives To Signing Contracts
Using video calls to observe signatures and scanning signed contracts rather than posting them helps keep business moving forward. Regulators and lenders will now accept scanned images instead of certified copies of identification, which means that certified copies of buyer ID is no longer a requirement.
You can learn about new strategies and procedures by checking on your local estate agents website to see what alternative viewing, buying and selling options they offer during a lockdown.
What is possible during a lockdown?
On December 28th 2020, a level 4 lockdown was implemented in Wales. Housing sector operation has been restricted once again, and our branch teams are continuing to operate from home. Viewings and appraisals are still possible, but only in the first instance.
England entered a new lockdown (lockdown 3) phase on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021. The property market will continue to function as usual.
Is It Time For Me To Take My House Off The Market?
If your home is already on the market, there is no reason to remove it unless you believe it is the right thing to do. Given the circumstances, there are still many searches and inquiries underway. After implementing the social distancing guidelines, the number of inquiries has risen, which is a good sign for sellers.
Many people seeking to relocate will continue to shortlist properties and make arrangements for when things return to normal.
Maintaining your property on the market and allowing agents to perform virtual viewings prior to physical viewings is a perfect way to create interest in your home while staying safe.
It’s also worth noting that you can accept offers from potential customers who attend virtual viewings.
Is It Time For Me To Sell My House?
It’s a perfect time to put your house on the market, with high levels of activity in the housing market. We’ve seen a surge in demand for properties since the measures were eased, so if you’re looking to relocate, there are plenty of motivated buyers out there looking for a home.
Most agents offer virtual valuations and viewings if you are uncertain about getting an agent round for a valuation.
It’s still worth consulting with your agents if you’re still in the early stages of trying to sell your home. They might advise you to put off listing it and instead prepare it for sale. You should compile a lot of the paperwork to ensure that your property is market and sales-ready when the time comes, in addition to enhancing the physical appearance of your property in preparation for viewings.
Before going to market, it’s a good idea to know the following:
- The property leasehold
- Ground rent
- Service charges
- Terms of the lease
- What services are connected to the property? Are they private or not?
Can agents show people around properties?
To prevent too many viewers from travelling to the same property, agents should perform virtual viewings. Virtual viewings make it possible for potential customers to see everything and ask questions even though they are unable to attend in person.
Are developers allowed to open show homes?
Show homes for new construction are permitted to open, subject to the following conditions:
- Viewings must be scheduled in advance, with only one household viewing each property at a time.
- Between viewings, developers must clean the surfaces.
- Developers must make certain that their sales staff follows secure working procedures at all times.
If I want viewings to be carried out at my property, what safety precautions do the government advise that I take?
The government has released guidelines on in-person viewings. Appointments may be made for viewings. The following is advice for sellers or landlords:
- Before the viewing, all internal doors should be open.
- Allow for handwashing and, preferably, separate towels and paper towels.
- To minimise interaction with others who are not in your household, its suggested that they vacate the property while the viewing is taking place.
- Agents should accompany viewers to ensure that they do not touch any surfaces and maintain a 2-meter gap at all times.
- All surfaces, like doorknobs, are wiped clean after the property viewing, and handwashing towels are discarded or cleaned.
Who is able to leave their home to look at a property?
Property viewings are permitted as long as no one in either household is having coronavirus symptoms or is self-isolating. The viewing must be postponed if anyone is having symptoms or is self-isolating.
Have there been changes to mortgages?
The government has instructed lenders to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to mortgages and to consult with your broker or agent if you have any questions about how your mortgage might be affected.
During this time of uncertainty, some lenders are moving away from mortgages with a higher loan-to-value ratio and concentrating on helping their existing borrowers. Homeowners and landlords with existing mortgages may qualify for a payment holiday of up to six months to help relieve payment stress. The lender’s websites provide a wealth of additional details.
Is it possible for me to make or receive an offer or a reservation through my estate agent?
Yes, according to government guidelines, you are free to make, approve, or reserve a property as normal. There’s more information about topics like inspections of the property you’re buying, which must follow social distancing guidelines. Additionally, no one is permitted to visit a home where a member of the household is exhibiting coronavirus symptoms or is self-isolating.
What is happening with exchange?
The continuation of exchanges is still encouraged, with an emphasis on flexible but delayed completions during lockdown times. The majority of the house sale process can still be completed by people working from home, and any delays you may encounter are common in the sales process.
If you’re getting ready to exchange, keep in touch with your solicitor and estate agent on a regular basis to ensure a smooth transition.
What is happening with completion?
Any lockdown situation could make it more difficult to complete. During the lockdown, the government is urging buyers and sellers to be flexible and wait as long as possible, but transactions can still be completed.
In most situations, if you’re finishing a new build house, you should be able to proceed normally when adhering to government regulations.
Another problem is that the need to self-isolate for a chain member would affect completion dates. The most important thing to remember in these situations is that they should not be travelling if someone is experiencing symptoms. Remember that delays in chain completion are common and that most people are willing to work with you to find a new completion date if necessary.
Is it contractually binding for me to move home if I have coronavirus or am self-isolating?
According to the government, anyone in the moving chain with a contract should be flexible in the event of unforeseen situations, and you should not plan to move into a home where people are isolating due to symptoms. It’s best to check with a lawyer to make sure the contract you sign has enough wiggle room.
What if your lease expires during the lockdown?
Speak with the landlord well in advance of the lease’s expiration date. If they refuse to extend your lease, but you don’t want to move because of the virus, the best advice would be to stay put and keep paying your rent. Eviction can’t happen for three months, but communicating early can help you prevent issues.
The government advises that delaying relocation is the best option unless it is inevitable. If you’re thinking of moving into a new rental house, the first thing you can do is talk to your letting agents and see if they think it’s safe for you to do so.
Consider the following:
- Has the property been vacant for a long time?
- Has the property been sanitised?
- Is moving going to put you or others at risk?
What is the guidance on removals?
This is possible, according to government advice, as long as no one in the household has symptoms or is self-isolating, and removal companies follow social distancing and safer working guidelines.
According to government recommendations, you should do as much of the packing and cleaning of your belongings as possible. If you want to hire a moving company, make contact well in advance of the transfer date. You won’t be able to get closer than 2 metres to the movers, so make sure handwashing facilities are available and that all doors are left open to avoid unnecessary contact.
What is a house valuation, and how do I get one?
A house valuation is a useful tool to have when entering the real estate market, whether you are buying or selling a home or just curious about what’s available.
What is the difference between a home valuation and a house price valuation?
A house valuation will tell you everything you need to know about the property and how much it could cost. Depending on where you get a home valuation, the details will either be accurate enough for you to proceed with a home purchase or sale, or it will need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
You may wish to have your home appraised to determine if it is a good time to sell or determine how much equity you have in your home to obtain a new loan.
If you are looking to purchase a new house, you may want to look at the home prices in different areas or streets to see where the best place to live within your budget is. If you’ve set your sights on a specific home, you can also lookup local house prices to see how the seller’s price compares.
If you’re buying a house, home appraisals will help you figure out whether you’re getting a decent deal or not. If you’re selling, home valuations will help you figure out whether or not it’s worth it to sell your house, as well as what price to ask.
Who can provide you with a reliable house valuation?
Chartered surveyors will provide you with an accurate property valuation for between £250 and £600. This is a service that is typically provided while purchasing a house.
Mortgage lenders may also have their own house valuation, although this will take place during the home-buying process. Mortgage lenders will have a valuation based on their opinion of the value, which normally costs an extra £100 or so on top of your mortgage payments.
You can search websites that get their data from the Land Registry and other sources if you’re only looking for a house valuation on the spur of the moment. Many estate agents’ websites, for example, will use information from past home sales in the region as well as the Land Registry, which is a registry of homeownership and purchases.
The Land Registry, on the other hand, is not always kept up to date. Since new data is introduced at various times, what you see right now could not be completely correct.
The most reliable way to do so is to pay for a house valuation, but if you’re only curious and want to know if it’s worth looking into buying or selling, it’s understandable that you don’t want to pay for one.
You can still get a reasonably reliable valuation for free, but you’ll need to use a variety of sources to ensure you don’t end up with inaccurate or out-of-date data.
How do you get a free valuation?
You can use a variety of free online house valuation tools to determine the value of a home, whether it’s your own or one you’re considering purchasing.
It’s important to note that free online house valuations aren’t always correct and can only be used as a reference. You can reduce the margin of error by doing your research on many websites, but it’s not worth making any major decisions based on it.
Some websites allow you to get a free valuation by simply entering your postcode. They will show you how much the home sold for using data from the Land Registry, but they can also give you an estimate of how much it is worth now. These aren’t always correct, but they typically give you a rough estimate.
Free home valuation sites are a great place to start, but you really should think about a few other options to narrow the field.
There are many online resources that include a simple guide based on fluctuating house prices in each UK area if you want to see how much your home could be worth.
Of course, this does not take into account any home improvements you might have made, and since it only considers an area rather than a street or even a postcode, it would not provide you with an accurate evaluation.
Some websites will attempt to predict house price increases and declines. It’s worthwhile to read through to see what the risks are for home buyers and sellers.
Many of these blogs, on the other hand, have their own agenda (they want a crash or prices to increase, for example) and are merely interpreting available data and current events – this does not guarantee that what they predict will happen.
Online home listings websites like Zoopla have pages that concentrate on the purchase history, which can give you a good idea of home values in a specific area or street. You will get a better idea of what those properties will sell for in the future by looking at what they have sold for previously.
You should also consider how negative aspects of a home you want to buy or sell could affect its value. Police. The UK can provide you with crime statistics for a specific street or neighbourhood. You will also see what types of crimes are most common.
You may also lookup which areas are at risk of flooding or air pollution on the Environment Agency’s website.
A combination of all of the above approaches will give you a ballpark figure, but not enough to fork over cash or sell your home. A surveyor’s professional home valuation is often recommended.
Should you remortgage based on the value of your home?
Remortgaging could help you save money by lowering your interest rate. You will normally get a better offer if the value of your home has increased.
This is because an increase in the value of your home will cause you to fall into a different loan-to-value (LTV) bracket.
The size of your mortgage in relation to the current value of your home is referred to as the LTV. A £150,000 mortgage on a £200,000 house, for example, equates to a 75% LTV.
As a general rule, the lower your LTV, the better the rate, the lowest rates are available with a 60 percent LTV, the next lowest at 65 percent, and so on up to 95 percent in 5 percent increments.
Assuming you still have a £150,000 mortgage (in fact, you would have repaid some of it), your LTV would have decreased to 60% if the value of your £200,000 home increased to £250,000.
But keep in mind that if you’re basing your decisions on a valuation, you should make sure it’s completely correct. You don’t want to be caught off guard if a lender determines that your home is worth less than your appraisal.