“Don’t panic!”

Writing in The Sunday Times Carol Lewis has the unenviable task of trying to predict what might happen to the housing market during the Covid19 epidemic. As usual she has sought the views of experts like Lucian Cook at Savills and Liam Bailey at Knight Frank. She has also quoted Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons who says: “I think we’ll see a fall in transactions, but it is unlikely to affect pricing too much. It’s widely acknowledged that the coronavirus is a temporary problem, and I think most sellers will just choose to wait it out.”

Personally, I’m not so sure. Nor, it would seem are the 50+ people who have taken up the offer of my CoronaClinics all of whom are deeply concerned about what the housing market might look like when we emerge, blinking into the sunlight in two or three months time.

Sales are driven by the three D’s – Death, Debt and Divorce all of which I fear will rise as a result of the Coronavirus come the summer. Buyers traditionally take about six months to get over a big event like a General Election or Referendum. They like to feel there is some certainty before committing to what for many is their biggest purchase. As I often observe, they don’t want it to be their most expensive!

Millions of people are going to have either taken ‘mortgage holidays’ or negotiate rental relief with their landlords. The impact on their credit file and subsequent ability to borrow is already in some doubt. Many people will have lost their job, have seen their income dry up if they are self-employed and their ability to pay the same rent they did in January will be in doubt. Their ability to borrow as much as they did at Christmas assuming they have the same enthusiasm to do so will, I suspect, be questionable.

My 30 minute clinics have been so popular that I will be running more next week. They are free and confidential. Using Skype or FaceTime we can try and look at individual circumstances and work out a practical plan that does least damage to others connected with a move whilst trying to ensure that mistakes that could take years to unpick are avoided.