The UK property market is very much alive and well. It has, however, had to make substantial changes to cope with the pandemic. While this has certainly meant short-term pain, it may also mean long-term gain.
Here are some ways the pandemic has changed the property market.
A move to virtual marketing
Online property portals have long been the first place most people look for a new home. The rest of the marketing process, however, was almost totally analogue.
It generally involved connecting with an estate agent and having an initial discussion about the property. If that went well it would be followed by some form of physical viewing, either open-house or individual.
Now, there is much more emphasis on video tours. This is probably going to be the way of the future since it makes life much easier for everyone. Homeowners are spared the pain of keeping their home in “show” condition.
Estate agents and buyers are spared the time of viewing which might not yield a result. Once serious interest has been established, the potential buyers may then have a “final” physical viewing to make sure they are happy before they proceed.
A move to virtual valuations
Virtual valuations are somewhat different from virtual viewings. The pandemic has demonstrated, however, that they can work successfully in many cases. They offer the same benefits in terms of time – and cost-savings. It, therefore, seems likely that they will be the way of the future at least in the majority of cases.
The reason why virtual valuations will work in the majority of cases is that valuations are essentially based on comparables. There are reasonable points of comparison available for most properties. The valuer will therefore just be fine-tuning these in line with any specific features of the property.
It follows from this that unusual homes are more likely to need physical valuations because it’s harder to find points of comparison for them. Similarly, there may be a preference to have physical valuations on high-value homes because of the amount of money involved.
More in-depth surveys will probably still require to be conducted on-site. These, however, only happen when a buyer is committed in principle but wants confirmation that all is well before committing in practice.
A move to e-signatures
The move to e-signatures is almost guaranteed to stay the course into the future. This is because the property market has been pressing for it, literally, for years. Its hands were, however, tied by the Land Registry’s rules.
Before the pandemic, the Land Registry was, to be fair, edging its way toward the recognition of electronic signatures. The pandemic, however, essentially forced it either to make the jump or accept that the UK’s housing market would grind to a virtual halt.
Nobody can have been under any illusions about what that would have meant for the UK. At a micro-level, it would have disrupted the lives of countless people. At a macro-level, it would have had major implications for the UK’s economy. Now that the “no” has finally become a “yes”, it is hard to see how it could be turned back into a “no” again.
Simon Hardingham is the sales manager of Manchester estate agents; Indlu. Indlu offer a no sale, no fee estate agency service in the North West.