We've now officially entered phase two of lockdown, but what does that mean if you're looking to buy or sell a property?
18 June 2020
18 June is the provisional date set out by the Scottish Government for the commencement of phase two of moving out of lockdown. This should allow key industries within the property market to recommence operations. So what will change for those looking to buy or sell?
If you’re looking to sell, in phase two you can arrange for a surveyor to visit your property to prepare the home report, photographers can take images and shoot video footage and you can list your home for sale on the open market once again.
Inviting these professionals into your home will inevitably involve extra protocols. Beyond PPE and social distancing measures, the home owner should expect to answer a checklist of pre-inspection questions and also prepare to be asked to vacate the property for the duration.
Before lockdown, photographers would happily assist in rearranging personal effects to capture a preferred shot of a room. They will no longer be able to do so and home owners will need to ensure their home is photo-ready prior to arrival. Our team can offer recommendations on how best to do this.
Virtual viewings have become the norm during lockdown and even with the relaxation of restrictions, it looks like they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Based on what we know, in person viewings will be permitted in phase 2. However, they will be preceded by a virtual tour and individuals must pass other criteria before they are allowed to step across the threshold. This criteria is still to be confirmed. Social distancing will be high on the agenda; compulsory wearing of face masks, disposable gloves and a “no touch” policy is likely to be the new norm going forward.
If you’re looking to buy a property, based on the Scottish Government’s ‘relaxation roadmap’ phase two won’t offer too many dramatic changes. However, if you offered on a property during lockdown and that offer was subject to an in person viewing, this viewing can now go ahead. You will also find the market more competitive. We predict a rise in demand where those who have preferred to physically view properties prior to submitting an offer can now do so and will seek to instruct their agents to offer on their behalf.
Purchasers should also check with their lender whether mortgage finance offered prior to lockdown is still available. Some lenders have changed their criteria or are withdrawing products and increasing their thresholds for deposits. In addition, should an updated Home Report obtained in the post-lockdown market show a significant fall in the valuation of a property, purchasers (and sellers) may be facing a difficult renegotiation of price.
The key question on everyone’s lips is what does market activity look like post-lockdown? Local market evidence suggests that there is still strong interest from both buyers and sellers. The market made a strong start in 2020 but the volume of transactions was halted by the nature of lockdown and the government restrictions.
If we look south of the border to England, earlier release of lockdown restrictions has shown that the property market continues to bounce back due to pent up demand. ESPC statistics illustrate encouraging signs with increasing levels of web traffic and enquiries suggesting that once we are officially able to restart, there will be a resurgence of activity and competing interest. In the short term at least, initial signs look promising.
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, the team at Balfour+Manson are working remotely and able to help.
This article originally appeared in The Scotsman on Thursday 18 June 2020.