COVID-19 and the property market
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly had a huge effect on the entire UK economy, including the residential housing market. Over the last few years, the property market has faced uncertainty due to the political situation, but confidence was slowly returning earlier this year following the long stalemate over Brexit. However, the recent lockdown due to COVID-19 has affected all areas of the sales and rental market. This includes finding new buyers and tenants, the ability to conduct viewings, let alone facilitate house moves and even carrying out essential maintenance work on properties.
The news that property viewings may resume under strict social distancing guidelines was a relief to the industry and those who, having put their property transactions on hold, are eager to move as soon as possible. As the situation changes, estate agents have to ensure that they are keeping up to date with the current government guidelines in place and will need to look to innovative ways to facilitate sales and lettings. These include virtual viewings as one of the most important innovations estate agents can employ and a feature that Hancock and Partners have been the first estate agent in Chichester to apply to all their empty lettings properties on their new website.
What will the rental market look like post-lockdown?
Due to the current situation, it is inevitable that the UK rental market has slowed. This is why it’s important for letting agents to work closely with both tenants and landlords to ensure this impact is minimal, as the UK government continues to update rules for landlords and estate agents. Industry leading body NAEA Propertymark expects a ‘phased easing of lockdown’ for estate agents, with social distancing at work through the use of screens and recommended PPE – or staff can continue to work from home.
It is important that estate agents have a plan in place to kick start their business again once the restrictions begin to ease. For example, both letting agents and landlords are under a lot of pressure to conduct property viewings, but they should still not visit their offices or enter any properties with more than two people. As an alternative, some forward-thinking agents have made use of technology to conduct virtual viewings where properties are empty.
Propertymark proposal for viewings
As social distancing is bound to continue when carrying out physical viewings in the future, industry bodies like Propertymark have proposed new measures:
- Viewings with a maximum of two people should be no longer than 15 minutes,
- PPE being worn at all times.
- All touch points, like door handles, should be disinfected by the landlord or vendor beforehand who should wait outside during the viewings.
However, it is thought that the popularity of virtual viewings will continue, minimising the number of in-person visits that need to take place.
Communication is also key during this crisis, agents and landlords should be speaking to tenants regularly to establish whether there are any maintenance issues or other problems. Landlords and agents can also play a role in informing their tenants of any schemes that may assist with their rent payments, which they may not be aware of. Especially in these current circumstances, landlords have a duty of care to their tenants, which means it is still a legal requirement to carry out any essential repair and maintenance work to their properties.
The current status of the Chichester lettings market
Across the country, once the effects of pandemic begin to ease, agents are preparing for a huge demand in properties to rent from people who have put move plans on hold. This is especially expected in Chichester, where the lettings market has remained strong – despite the uncertainty of this current crisis. During April, the average rent of a property in this city was well above the national average of £861 at £1,100 PCM, and a range of 2 bed houses to rent in Chichester are widely available for tenants.
With its streets steeped in history, this area has always been a desirable place to live for tenants, especially those with families. There are a range of excellent schools to choose from, along with good transport connections to London. Chichester is also less than an hour away from Brighton and under half an hour from Portsmouth, – making it the perfect place to live for many.
How can Hancock & Partners help you?
With over 100 years’ worth of combined experience in the local property market, as estate agents in Chichester, we are very much ready for business. During the crisis, our entire team has been working from home and are ready for the surge in demand for property once lockdown is eased. In the short term, we have the technological capabilities to carry out virtual property viewings to ensure landlords unlock the full potential of their property investment. We are one of the only estate agents in Chichester to offer this on empty properties where we have been able to safely gain access. The virtual tours allow the user to view the property in dollhouse mode, floor plan mode and even allows measurement between any two points within the property. Check it out by clicking on one of our new instructions on any of our pages.
Our team can provide you with a unique understanding of local market conditions, so we can help you secure a successful outcome for your investment. If you would like to have a chat with our experienced lettings staff, please feel free to call us on 01243 531111 and we would be more than happy to help you.