Coronavirus has ground the UK property market to a halt, with most mortgage lenders suspending most new mortgages, and some even suspending remortgaging. Property transactions are becoming increasingly difficult with every link in the property selling chain affected, from estate agent appointments to property evaluations and viewings.
Property sales that are at contract exchange stage are legally allowed to go ahead to the completion stage, although everyone is being strongly advised to delay completion for up to three months. Channel Four's Kirstie Allsopp advised in an interview with the BBC that 'what is legal and what is compassionate' are not necessarily the same thing under the circumstances, and urged everyone who is able to do so to speak to their seller and conveyancer and delay the move.
Where does that leave prospective home owners who were hoping to find the home of their dreams this year? All may not be lost: the first thing to do is to speak to your prospective lender or intermediary as soon as possible to gauge what options currently remain open. Lloyds and Barclays have both said that they still will lend to buyers with a deposit of 40 per cent or larger, and it's possible other lenders will follow suit.
Some evaluations and viewings may be possible to carry out via video, so phone the estate agent that's advertising the property to see what's currently possible. Expect everything to take much, much longer, but remember: the restrictions are temporary and even if you're not able to go ahead with a house purchase right now, it's still worth speaking to the estate agent about the property market in your chosen area, and to a mortgage specialist – such as our partner Habito – about mortgages. It's also worth getting a good idea of how much you'll be able to borrow (even if it is in three months' time) by using their online mortgage comparison tool, just below.