The housing market reopens, but with a note of caution

by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Showhouse News

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The government has officially reopened the housing market with strict new guidelines in place; but will the industry need further intervention to help pent up demand translate into sales? New guidelines which have paved the way for the housing market to reopen have, naturally, been welcomed by the industry. Those who put their plans to move on ice now have free reign to get packing. However, after weeks of caution, confidence won’t be so easily restored.

Grant Lipton, co-founder of London-focused developer Great Marlborough Estates, which is behind £1.5bn projects in the capital, said: “The housing market re-starting is obviously positive news, but it will need more than a press release to give buyers and sellers confidence and so the government needs to look at a range of measures to kick-start activity including a stamp duty holiday.”

With the market having been effectively closed for business, 80% of the April RICS UK Residential survey’s contributors saw both buyers and sellers pulling out of transactions, resulting in the newly agreed sales balance for April falling to -92%, down from -68% in March. Mary-Anne Bowring, managing director at Ringley Group, said: “There’s no reason buyers or renters shouldn’t be able to move home if they are able to do so safely in accordance with social distancing guidelines so today’s announcement is welcome news.

However we shouldn’t pretend this means the housing market has returned to its pre-coronavirus state. “Lockdown is set to continue in some form for an unknown amount of time, the resulting economic disruption will likely weigh down on activity in the for sale market. “A stamp duty holiday proposed by RICS and others would likely see a stampede in transactions while an extended Help to Buy will support some sales and in turn housebuilding.”


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