Scottish residential property market set to re-open ‘with a bang’
Estates agents are preparing for growing interest from buyers as Scotland’s housing market reopens today.
From today, interested parties are once more allowed to visit properties, although they will be expected to adhere to social distancing rules and may find estate agents wearing PPE.
Estate agents and developer sales offices will also reopen and restrictions on moving homes will be relaxed.
In the last week alone, the Bank of Scotland has reported a 75% increase in online mortgage applications and a 470% surge in people seeking a lending appointment.
In anticipation of today, the Scottish Government published detailed guidance on how the moving process will work, offing practical measures to protect the health and safety of all those involved in a move.
Mark Hayward, chief executive at NAEA Propertymark, and David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, said the reopening is great news for consumers and the industry in Scotland.
They added: “Whilst it is not a return to normal, the new guidelines will allow members of the public to view, purchase, rent and move into new properties from today, reinvigorating the housing market and boosting the economy. Of course, safety is paramount, and we encourage all agents to follow the Propertymark guidelines on property viewings and moves closely to protect themselves and others.’
Cameron Ewer, head of Savills Residential in Scotland, said: “It is very encouraging that the safe reopening of the housing market has commenced today.
“Before we look at what this means for the Scottish residential market, it is important to highlight that sales activity hasn’t stood still during lockdown. Deals have been agreed, viewings and valuations have continued remotely and there has been overwhelming desire to get on with things.
“Since lockdown measures were eased in England a couple of weeks ago, Savills viewings have increased by 28% and enquiries by 58% compared with the same period last year. Prior to the pandemic, Scotland had seen record market activity and the market here is set to reopen with a similar bang this week, with pent-up demand already outstripping supply.
“A refreshing constant through all the challenges of the last decade (from the Scottish Independence debate, to Brexit negotiations) has been an increasing level of demand for Scottish property. The level of enquiries we have received during lockdown suggests this has not changed, with demand levels boosted by a surge in interest from London. Interestingly we have seen a 71% rise in the number of London buyers viewing our properties located in Scotland in May, compared to the start of the year. Larger homes with home-working options, room for extended family, and with gardens and access to the green space are proving to be particularly sought after.
“Easing the restrictions in Scotland has come slightly later here and we have been able to learn from Savills colleagues based south of the border about the most effective measures we can put in place in order to deliver best service to our clients here. As such, we are confident that we can prioritise safety, efficiency and provide up to date market information in order to advise our clients in what is likely to be a fast-moving market.
“The cautious nature of Scottish Government’s route map to ease COVID-19 lockdown, which began on 28th May, meant that online market appraisals and virtual viewings remained the default position during Phase One. These have both proved to be very effective means of progressing sales throughout lockdown. As we move to Phase Two, they will continue to be important features of our housing market, especially when clients are at the early stages of their property search, or would require to travel significant distances to view a property, or indeed are shielding.
“We have put stringent protocols in place to protect clients and staff involving the wearing PPE equipment, limiting the number of people visiting a house at any one time and ensuring social distancing is observed, and will be carrying out in-person viewings for those who do not feel comfortable doing so themselves. From an agent’s point of view, it will be fantastic to be able see our buyers and sellers again and helping them to meet their buying and selling objectives in a re-energised Scottish housing market.”
Philip Hogg, sales and marketing director with CALA Homes (East), said: “We are looking forward to welcoming customers back to our sales offices and helping them in their search for their dream home.
“The safety of our customers, our team and the wider community is absolutely paramount, and we’ve put in place a number of new health and safety measures to ensure their wellbeing, which all of our teams have been extensively briefed on.
“We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning in our sales suites and showhomes and will leave time between each appointment for this to take place. There’ll also be some changes throughout the experience, such as protective screens and hand sanitiser stations, and new signage to help customers navigate the sales areas safely. While our sales teams won’t be able to accompany customers around showhomes, customers will be given plenty of time to explore these properties on their own, and our advisors will be on hand before and after to answer any questions.
“We want to thank customers in advance for their understanding of the new measures and urge them to make an appointment before coming to see us, to help us safely stagger visitors. Our teams are very excited to be opening our doors again and are looking forward to making dream homes a reality once more.”
CALA has also launched two new services, Virtual Guided Tours and Remote Reservations, to enable customers to view and reserve homes remotely.
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