The United Kingdom has decided to restart its housing market this Wednesday, lifting restrictions on moving and real estate tours. Participants will be required to adhere to specific safety measures, including strict physical distancing regulations.
Housing Market Hit Hard by Covid-19
The UK’s housing market has been put on hold as a result of the national lockdown. Real estate agents have been banned from listing or showing properties and individuals have been forbidden from moving homes unless deemed “reasonably necessary.” These strict measures have had a cataclysmic effect on the industry.
According to Zoopla, an online real estate company, there were 373,000 property transactions put on hold in April, which comprised a shared value of £82 billion or $100.75 billion. Meanwhile, about a half a million people who had planned to move during this period, could not. April property sales were 90% lower than March levels and the nationwide lockdown triggered a record high number of property sale cancellations.
Restarting the Industry
Many view Britain’s real estate market as an essential and smart early industry to begin the country’s slow reopening.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, said of the move, “Our step by step plan is based on the latest guidance to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved…This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so.”
Restrictions have now been amended to allow individuals to leave their homes to visit a real estate agent, to view residential properties, to prepare properties or to move. But all participants must maintain 2 meters (6 feet) of distance from one another during meetings and viewings.
Building More Homes
Another critical aspect of the real estate industry is construction. The government, in coordination with the Home Builders Federation, is launching the “Safe Working Charter,” which will increase the amount of construction workers allowed on any given site. Shifts will be staggered to allow for physical distancing at work and to limit crowding on public transit as builders head to work. Project planners, engineers and designers are encouraged to work from home as much as possible.
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation, is hopeful that the move will return a sense of purpose to those in the sector who have been out of a job since the onset of the lockdown, and assist in the piecemeal resurrection of the halted economy. “The industry sustains hundreds of thousands of people in numerous roles and associated sectors, boosting local economies across the country,” he commented. “A resumption of work will play a major part in helping the economy recover as well as delivering the homes the country needs.”