The Covid-19 pandemic led to a series of lockdowns all around the world. Countries like the UK, India, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, and so many more went into lockdown for months. Of course, this lockdown affected businesses, impacted industries and eventually took its toll on economies too. Every country suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and almost every sector was affected by this pandemic. The aviation industry almost came to a halt, the tourism industry was majorly impacted, the hospitality industry suffered, and the real estate industry took a big hit.
In the UK itself, during the first lockdown, the country came to a complete standstill. People were not allowed to move out of their homes, businesses had to stop all operations, bars and restaurants were temporarily shut down, and the real estate industry came to a complete stop. No real estate transactions were allowed during the first lockdown in the UK. That meant, buyers and sellers who were in the middle of closing deals had to put those deals on hold, real estate agents and letting agents had to shut down their businesses, even moving companies and property surveyors were not allowed to do their jobs. From estate agents in Buckingham to letting agents all over the UK, every agent had to shut shop and wait for the first lockdown to finish. After that, the UK went into a second lockdown, during which the residents of the country assumed that it would be quite similar to the first lockdown. Luckily, the second lockdown allowed real estate transactions. Real estate investors and buyers to purchase property, sellers could finally sell property and buyers and sellers who were in the middle of closing their deals could finish the process they started so many months ago.
When the second lockdown started, the government announced that renters and homeowners would be able to move, estate agents can operate their businesses, as usual, construction sites could continue, tradespeople could enter homes and removal firms as moving companies, could re-start their operations. However, it was essential for all these agents, businesses, companies and employees to strictly follow the Covid-19 safety guidelines and the social distancing norm.
The rules remained the same for the third lockdown. As things started to get back to normal, potential buyers and real estate, investors could start buying property and sellers could finally put their properties on the market for sale. This meant potential buyers could begin looking at new properties that were available on the market. However, one significant change that came about was that potential buyers could now view properties virtually. The days of open houses and visiting multiple properties in a day were over. Now, potential buyers could view properties online via a virtual tour or a video tour. Once they selected a few properties, they could visit these properties physically with their real estate agents. However, potential buyers, homeowners and real estate agents were required to follow strict safety protocols such as social distancing, wearing masks at all times, sanitising their hands before viewings and ensuring they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms while viewing these properties. So, while buyers could buy a house during the second and third lockdown easily, it’s a must to follow all the Covid-19 protocols that had been set by the UK government.
Due to the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first lockdown, the UK government decided to decrease the interest rates to boost the buyer’s confidence. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the stamp duty holiday, which was a temporary suspension of stamp duty that buyers have to pay when they purchase property. Thanks to stamp duty holiday, buyers no longer had to pay any stamp duty on properties under £500,000, and the stamp duty for properties over and above £500,000 was substantially reduced. The combination of stamp duty holiday, as well as the low rate of interest, meant that property in the UK was now more affordable than ever. Also, since the demand and supply for property were high during the pandemic, the UK’s real estate market was nearly buoyant. So, combing the factors mentioned above with the fact that sellers were willing to reduce their asking price and offer discounts, potential buyers could buy excellent properties at relatively affordable prices. Hence, in the third lockdown, not only will buyers be able to purchase property and move into their new homes, but they will be able to buy prime properties at really great deals and discounted prices.
Since the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick allowed the real estate market to remain open during the second lockdown, buyers are free to view property, close property deals and even move houses during the lockdown. Given that these properties are now more affordable than ever, not only can you buy a new home during the lockdown, it is highly recommended that you speed up the process to make the most of the current market situation!