ESPC: Coronavirus and the Scottish property market - a timeline

Instead of providing its usual House Price Report for April and May, ESPC has compiled a timeline of coronavirus and the Scottish property market, highlighting week-to-week impacts and effects.

ESPC: Coronavirus and the Scottish property market - a timeline

4th– 10th May

Key events

Scottish Government announces aid for private rental landlords.

Interest-free loans announced for landlords.

On 5th May, the Scottish Government announced a £5 million fund that will offer interest-free loans to landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The Private Rent Sector Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme offers eligible landlords up to 100% of lost rental income for a single property.

It supports private-sector landlords who are not classified as businesses, have five or less properties to rent and have lost rental income due to tenants unable to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

11th– 17th May

Key events

English property market restrictions relaxed.

ESPC agents report buyers making offers after viewing properties virtually.

House moves and physical property viewings allowed in England.

On 13th May, some general estate agent activity resumed in England, which included visiting an estate agent or letting agent, viewing a property to rent or buy and moving home. Guidelines were introduced to help ensure these activities could be done while adhering to social distancing measures, and people were encouraged to take a virtual first approach with regards to property viewings.

These regulations did not apply in Scotland – the Scottish guidance still advised against in person property viewings, visits to estate agents and moving home. This guidance is still in place.

However, during the same week, ESPC agents reported that virtual property viewings were being received well by property buyers and sellers. Several agents reported that they had received offers on properties after a buyer had viewed them virtually.

18th– 24th May

Key events

Scottish Government published COVID-19 route map outlining phased easing of lockdown restrictions.
Scottish Government provide information about the phased approach to easing lockdown

After some lockdown restrictions were relaxed in England the previous week, on 21st May, the Scottish Government published a COVID-19 route map, outlining a phased approach to easing lockdown restrictions, with Phase 1 beginning on 28thMay. This gave some indication about when certain housing market activities could start to go ahead again in Scotland.

Phase 1 includes “preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market” while Phase 2 includes the “relaxation of restrictions on housing moves”. There are certain criteria that must be met before Phase 2 can begin. The next formal review will be held on the 18th June.

25th– 31st May

Key events

ESPC agents report rise in enquiries following the relaxation of English market restrictions.
UK announces mortgage payment holidays will be extended.
Scotland enters Phase 1 of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Demand to move house in Scotland rises after English restrictions relaxed

While ESPC had noted increases in viewing requests, Home Report downloads, valuation requests and web traffic for a number of weeks, these increases became more notable after some of the English property market restrictions were eased, and the publication of Scotland’s COVID-19 route map.

Comparing the two weeks after the English property market restrictions were relaxed to the two weeks before, there’s been a 60% increase in viewing requests,37% increase in Home Report downloads and 16% increase in web traffic sessions on ESPC.

In a survey of 30 ESPC agents from across Scotland, 23 reported that they had received a greater number of enquiries from buyers and sellers since restrictions on the English market had been eased.

During this week, the UK Government also announced that mortgage payment holidays, which were initially offered for a three-month period, could be extended by another three months.

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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