Property market still open for business during COVID-19
As part of the UK COVID-19 lockdown, the UK Government made the difficult decision to pause the housing market with negative industry trends predicted. But one company bucking the trend is H&H Land & Estates. Branch Manager, Piers Morton, reports that property still being sold and let, and interest from both buyers and vendors is continuing
"In April, across all our various divisions, the business saw £6m worth of property completed or sales agreed as well as dozens of residential, commercial and rural properties successfully managed, let and dealt with. In addition to the many enquiries from people wanting to move north - perhaps as a result of evaluating their lifestyle and wanting to live in the countryside - we have a list of dozens of people wanting to view properties and in the region of 25 requests for valuations", Piers says.
Despite the social distancing restrictions, H&H Land & Estates has adapted quickly to working remotely away from its usual high street fronts in Carlisle, Kendal, Durham, Penrith, Keswick, Cockermouth and Grange-over-Sands. The team has really grasped the opportunities and supported customers however it can, adopting different tactics to ensure business continuity as far as practically possible, whilst ensuring the safety and health of themselves and others.
In fact, it’s thanks to this approach that properties have been sold during the lockdown and encouragingly, there is also a list of customers waiting in the wings to purchase when the lockdown is lifted.
In the lettings department, it has certainly not been without its challenges, and many conversations and transactions have been conducted through windows!
Signing and witnessing rental agreements has been done via posting through doors to avoid human contact and tenants have had to post keys through branch doors with the property checked once vacated.
Overcoming these hurdles has been instrumental in keeping the business going and meeting customers’ needs.
Piers explains: "This really is positive news for us, and to the economy, as it demonstrates that interest has not gone away. We are in touch with vendors and potential buyers every day, and it is interesting to note that there is certainly an interest from potential buyers from the south of the country looking for a more socially distant living. In our experience, usually, the property market sees trends emerging, and now I believe that there is little evidence of the predicted downturn in the market."
In Piers’ experience to date, what this shows is that the pause is giving households time to reflect on the future and consider a house move as part of that, whether it be to relocate, downsize or to move up one rung of the property ladder.
“This forced pause is definitely a good time to put in place any house move plans. Not only will this mean that as soon as the lockdown is lifted, the property market is prepared, but it will also mean that the housing market will be ready to bounce back,” says Piers.
Besides the usual sprucing up to sell a house – de-cluttering, freshening up paintwork, simple maintenance, cleaning the house and tidying the garden – Piers advises that having the correct documentation for a sale is one area which often gets overlooked and can often delay a sale completion.
When you are selling a property there are certain documents which both estate agents and solicitors need to complete the house sale. These include:
- HM Land Registry title documents
- Gas checks completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Electrical checks – an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) or a NAPIT or NICEIC certificate/report from a registered electrical competent person
- FENSA or CERTAS certificates for windows
- Planning permission for any major works/building regulation completion certificates
- Builder’s guarantee certificates for alterations/additions e.g. damp guarantees/warranties
- Party wall agreements (if relevant) if a listed building, listed building consent for interior and exterior works if your home is in a conservation area, conservation area consent for works
- Any title insurance policies you may have taken out to solve title issues from your previous purchase.
“We are feeling quietly confident about the housing market at this time and encourage anyone considering buying or selling to get in touch now for advice so that once lockdown is lifted, we can hit the ground running.”