As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the UK, online estate agents have seen a huge rise in virtual viewings. While there is no doubt that the pandemic is having an impact on the UK economy, we can only estimate what this would have been without the online arena. The ability to view property online, communicate with estate agents and effectively still transact has to a certain extent shielded the property market from the ongoing woes.
The power of the Internet
As yet there is no confirmation with regards to the number of property transactions suspended as a consequence of the coronavirus. At some point no doubt this information will trickle down into the mass media but the Internet is certainly helping. Virtual viewings include:-
• Walk-through videos
• Static panoramic views
• Drone overviews
There is also the ability to communicate in real time via telephone, online chat or many of the other communication apps such as Skype, etc. It is fair to say that the Internet is really coming into its own in this time of trouble.
It would be foolish to suggest that property prices will not be impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close, finance is now tight for buyers and despite financial help from the government the business wheels within the property sector have certainly slowed. However, at this moment in time there is one specific real concern which is being addressed by the government.
London property market
London has become the epicentre of the UK coronavirus outbreak with death from the virus doubling every two days. Recent actions taken by the UK government will help to slow the increase in deaths and infections but they will take time to filter through. So, the UK as a whole and especially the London community are now prepared for a huge increase in coronavirus deaths in the short term. As we touched on above, there is still great interest in virtual tours of properties for sale but setting up these tours in the London market may be challenging.
There have also been reports of huge multi-million pound property transactions collapsing as a consequence of the pandemic. We have also seen the re-emergence of “raffles” as a means of selling property worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. While these are not your traditional raffles, they do reflect the entrepreneurship amongst property owners across the UK. The chance to own a £500,000 property for a £10 ticket might catch the eye of those looking to live the dream!
Calm before the storm
UK government rhetoric has always been focused towards the expected exponential increase in virus infections and virus deaths. We are certainly entering the calm before the storm with the authorities having already taken action, police are on the streets and strict curfews will certainly be an option going forward. We are in challenging times, there is a need to pull together and recognise that government advice should be heeded. The UK has come through far worse than the coronavirus, property markets bounce back very quickly and there is no reason to suggest we won’t experience the same type of recovery. Indeed, as buyers and sellers are now pulling back from the market we have so far seen little impact on property prices.
Only when things return to “normal” will be able to gauge property prices and market demand. However, we are unlikely to see a huge drop in property prices with underlying demand for UK homes still extremely strong.