Like almost every other industry on the planet (excluding video call apps and online food shops!) the property market has hit a wall during this time.
If you were buying or selling a property, or experiencing any property problems going into the lock down, it will have no doubt added a tonne of extra stress on to an already stressful situation (there aren’t many people who don’t find even the simplest property sale stressful under normal circumstances!).
Sadly, I don’t have all the answers, I really wish I did. But, through my many year’s experience in the property market, and speaking with lots of home owners, tenants, and others in our property network over the past six weeks, I hope that this blog might provide some helpful information for how best to proceed in these unprecedented times.
Selling your property during the lockdown
If you’d planned to sell your property at this time, you’ll no doubt be wishing you’d done it several months ago. Though the market has come to a screaming halt, sales are still going through. So, if you absolutely need to sell right now, there are ways to go about it. Zoopla has written a really helpful article: Corona virus: buying and selling your home
However, if you can, hold off selling your property until the housing market picks back up.
More buyers will always return the best price, so now is really not the best time to sell if you can avoid it in any way. Use this time to make the property as saleable as possible. This could mean:
- A huge spring clean to make the rooms look larger and tidier
- Returning rooms to their original use so that you can show your property off to it’s fullest potential. For example, returning your office to a box room will help people envision that there really is enough room in there to call it a third bedroom and take out the guesswork for potential buyers.
- A lick of white paint will make any room look bigger, brighter, and altogether more appealing.
- Clear and tidy the garden
- Paint those old fences a nice bright colour
- Clear out the shed and maximise storage with this handy guide.
- Paint your front door
- De-weed the drive
We’ve previously rounded up quite a few Top Tips for prepping your home for sale on our facebook page, just hop over there and search toptips in the search bar on the page.
Psychologists agree that most people form a first impression within 7 seconds.
So working on the front of your house might be as important – perhaps even more important – than working on the inside.
Joanne of Essex Property Angel, speaks more on this here:
Refurbishing a property during the lockdown.
Anyone who was mid-refurb when the lockdown was announced will have had a hard run. As you can’t get people in, the only real choice is to be pragmatic: focus on what you can do to get the property ready. This might mean doing the garden, designing the kitchen, deciding on fixtures and fittings now, even if you won’t need them for a while, you can get the whole browsing process out of the way now so you’re ready to steam ahead as soon as possible.
If you were trying to sell a second property which you now can’t complete, ensure that it’s properly covered on the insurance. Standard insurance won’t cover you over three months of a property being unoccupied. We’re written about this in our blog: Empty properties insurance and security.
So far there has been no mention in Southend or Basildon of any reduced council tax for empty properties that can’t be sold, but we’ve been keeping a close eye out for that news and if it does come about by some miracle we’ll be sure to let you know on our social media accounts straight away.
If you haven’t done so already and you have a mortgage on the property, speak to your mortgage provider about taking a mortgage holiday to tide you over until you can sell the property.
What happens if I was struggling to pay my mortgage or in arrears before the pandemic?
If you were struggling before the pandemic, you’ve either grabbed a moment to breathe as everything has been put on hold, or your situation has worsened because you’re now out of work.
If you were in arrears, this is good timing. A pause on all court action means that your arrears won’t be taken any further at the moment. This means you’ve been given a lifeline to take some time to work on your finances.
Use this wisely; go through all of your bills and prioritise them so that your mortgage, council tax, food and utility bills are covered.
Speak with credit card companies and set up a repayment plan on any outstanding balances. This could cut your outgoings by hundreds every month and, whilst we appreciate that it’s really not the best time to cancel Sky TV, this is one of the most common ‘luxury’ bills we see when we help people with their financial problems around property.
Often you’ll sign up on a great deal and not realise this has ended. It’s not uncommon for people to be paying £150 a month for Sky TV, and overpaying by several hundred pounds on their utility bills just through lack of shopping around for both.
So use this time to compare the market for the best possible deal on all of your bills, and read our guide on taking control of your finances to work through them by committing just half an hour a day this week.
Useful links on property arrears:
What happens if my house was due to be repossessed before the lockdown?
All court action for repossession was suspended for 90 days from 27 March 2020 including Ballif visit for eviction
So at least until June 27th, you can’t be evicted.
Use this time to organise your finances as we discussed above, and ensure that you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to.
If you’re self-employed, see if you can get help from any of these schemes:
If you have any questions around this that we might be able to help with, pop us an email or a facebook message – we’ll do out best to help you.