Most of us were expecting to hear the news of a new national lockdown last night. Unlike the first lockdown, the property market will remain open.

By the time Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new national lockdown at 8pm on Monday 4 January, most of the nation was prepared for the news of tougher restrictions. The Prime Minister’s message was clear: stay at home, work from home if you can, only go out if necessary for essential shopping, caring for others, exercise and fleeing harm.

The new lockdown rules will become law from midnight on Wednesday 6 January. They will be in place until at least mid-February and will be reviewed after the school half-term.

So what does this mean for the property market? Amid the grim news, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for anyone in the midst of moving house or hoping to do so.

Business as usual

The property market will remain open. Property experts have described this as ‘welcome news’ while one expert said that the lockdown will do little to slow the momentum of the UK property market.

A spokesman for Enness Global Mortgages said it would be business as usual for the UK property market and it would be unlikely that buyer activity would decline.

During the first national lockdown in March 2020, the property market was effectively shut down and transactions were halted. People were unable to view properties or complete a house move. It will be a great relief to many that the market will remain open during the third lockdown.

However, it is important to follow government guidance. If you are moving house, people outside of your household or support bubble should not assist you with moving home unless absolutely necessary. When moving, you must adhere to social distancing, let fresh air in and wear a face mask.

You can move house

If you are planning to move, you’ll be pleased to hear that estate agents and letting firms can continue to work and you can go to property viewings.

The housing market in Scotland also remains open despite the introduction of a national lockdown by Nicola Sturgeon on the afternoon of 4 January until 1 February (to be reviewed in mid-January.)

If you are thinking of moving but feel unsure about the future of the property market, it may reassure you to hear that the housing market remains buoyant at this stage.

According to Financial Reporter, the average UK house price increased by over £10,000 in 2020 with properties in England seeing the highest price rise of £11,037. A spokesperson for Zoopla described the housing market as ‘one of the bright spots of the economy in this otherwise uncertain year’.

No stamp duty extension

The stamp duty holiday (which could save buyers up to £15,000) has been a big contributing factor, with many people hoping to beat the deadline of 31 March. Many buyers have been keen to take advantage of the saving, which has created a backlog of house purchases. There have been calls for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the stamp duty deadline, but the government has so far said there will be no extension.

If you are in the process of moving house, be aware that things may take longer. Surveyors and solicitors are already under pressure. Unless you are in the final stages of the process, it is unlikely you will benefit from the stamp duty saving. ‘With only 12 weeks to go before this deadline it now seems unlikely – especially in light of the new restrictions – that any new purchase will complete in time,’ says MBA’s Sales Manager Phil Leivesley.

During these uncertain times, you may have many questions. The team at MB Associates are here to help and answer your queries. Due to the national lockdown, we will be unable to meet clients face to face until further notice, but we will be happy to speak with you on the phone, via email or through video calls. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any queries about a new or existing mortgage application.

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