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House Hunting in a Pandemic

15 July 2020

Living in a COVID-19 world has forced us all to rethink how we see our homes. Space, particularly outdoor space, is at a premium and despite the bleak outlook for the UK economy, the property market is busier than ever. Pent up demand has been unleashed, with the freeze on Stamp Duty helping the market to surge further forward. But what’s it like house hunting during a pandemic?

Charlotte Coulson, Account Director

“Lockdown, and the prospect of working from home more, proved to us that we need more space. Whilst we could look at listings online, it was when the restrictions on house viewings were lifted that things really took off, with much more coming onto the market in our area. Whereas previously estate agents told us that places are being priced low to get places sold quickly and the market moving, the easing of Stamp Duty has changed that and what is coming on now has a very bullish price tag. 

“For us we’re looking for a project, so are used to seeing houses with what at best can be described as ‘rustic charm’. But with the added necessity of face masks and gloves, the experience starts to take a crime scene feel. Things are being snapped up quickly, but hopefully we’ll be able to find to find a new home soon.”

Laura Sears, Senior Consultant

“House hunting during lockdown has been tricky, to say the least. Prior to Covid, I would spend hours exploring show homes of clients, filtering images for press and dreaming of the day I could look at these homes with a view to buying one myself. 

“However, socially distant viewings make it tough to feel comfortable in a space, let alone imagine yourself living there. You can’t properly snoop in the cupboards, test the water pressure, inspect every nook and cranny and asking questions about the neighbours when you can’t lip-read is nigh-on impossible. 

“Add to that the pent-up demand from buyers having had to put their home ownership dreams on pause during lockdown, plus the removal of 90 and 95% LTV mortgages having drastically limited my options and it’s become even harder: it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, everyone fighting for that perfect two-bedroom apartment with balcony close to a tube… is that too much to ask?”

Beth Colmer, Account Director

“My husband and I had been looking at houses for six months before lockdown. After that, we were still searching online but obviously couldn’t look round them. The first day lockdown was eased, we enquired about a property we had been coveting for months on Zoopla. We were first sent a virtual tour via Whatsapp, which the owner had made themselves, and then looked round the house in person on Saturday 16th May which seems impossible looking back – surely we were still in the midst of lockdown?!

“The estate agents met us outside, we kept our distance (about four metres) while we chatted, everyone wore masks and gloves and we were asked not to touch anything in the house. Apart from that, it was like any normal house viewing!”