After reviewing the tier guidelines, the government has announced that buying, selling and letting activities can continue in all four tiers. What does this mean for the housing market?
Following a review of the tier system, renters and homeowners in England are still able to move in all tiers. Estate agents, tradespeople and removal firms are allowed to continue operating by going inside homes. And other professionals in the property industry, such as conveyancers, are also still able to work.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stated on Twitter: “Housing market update: the sales and rental markets remain open in all tiers. All associated activities can continue as before. Please follow the Covid secure guidance. And use your judgment as to whether it’s necessary right now.”
The guidance from the government on moving during the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed. Safety measures, such as social distancing and wearing a face covering, must be followed when viewing properties in any tier. However, many in the property industry recommend using a virtual-first approach.
Newly introduced Tier 4 restrictions
The government has introduced new Tier 4 restrictions for London, the south-east and east of England. This decision was made due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in these areas and the growing concern about a new strain of the virus that is spreading quickly.
In Tier 4, people must not leave or be outside of their home except for when they have a ‘reasonable excuse’, and that includes moving home and going to work. While people are still allowed to move, those outside an individual bubble should not help with moving unless absolutely necessary. The guidance also states that removal firms and estate and letting agents can continue to work in Tier 4.
Another review of the tier system will take place on the 30th of December. However, these new rules could be in place for months as the government tries to bring the new variant of COVID-19 under control.
The housing market plays an important role
The government continues to make the housing market a priority as the sector is an important part of the economy. And the property market, along with housebuilding, can play a pivotal role in the country’s recovery from COVID-19. The sector as a whole has continued to adapt and follow strict social distancing and health and safety guidelines.
Additionally, the announcement of the housing market remaining open allows buyers and sellers to continue with their purchases across England. This is especially important as many are hoping to beat the stamp duty holiday, which is set to end at the end of March and can save buyers up to £15,000.
Strong activity continues in the property market
Despite the rollercoaster year, buyer demand has soared by 40% during 2020, according to Zoopla. The total value of properties changing hands is likely to jump by £62bn by the end of the year. On top of that, sales have been agreed on over £300bn worth of property, which is a 26% increase from 2019.
Housing market activity continues well above average levels for this time of year. And the property boom is expected to spill over into 2021. Successive lockdowns have led many people to re-evaluate their living situations. This is likely to continue with the more stringent restrictions in place in certain parts of the country.
Richard Donnell, director of research and insight at Zoopla, says: “With a long Christmas weekend, and many households isolating in smaller groups, we expect interest in housing to be stronger than usual ahead of the traditional Boxing Day bounce, when interest in housing jumps.
“The ‘once-in-a-lifetime re-assessment of housing’ kickstarted by the pandemic has further to run in our view and this will support demand into 2021.”