Since the lockdown was announced, there has been a misconception that buying a property is not an 'essential' task and so is against the law. This was never the case.

Activity in the property market, both residential and commercial, continues. Mortgage lenders are still issuing funds, solicitors are working to make the legal side happen and people are moving house where reasonably necessary.

Government regulations provide a consent to be outside of the place in which you are living "to move house where reasonably necessary."

Government guidance suggests:

  • there is no need to pull out of transactions
  • if a property is vacant, then that purchase can proceed to completion, provided distancing guidelines are followed
  • any person with symptoms or who is self-isolating, should not move house for the time being if at all possible
  • parties should work together to agree a deferred date on which to complete a house move

Buyers and sellers are not obliged to defer completion dates.

Further activity is to be expected, due to pent-up demand during lockdown. Property auctions have continued to operate remotely. Good photos and videos of properties mean that viewings can be minimised.

As the country returns to normal, some will re-assess their property needs. If someone has been in lockdown in a flat, then moving to somewhere with outside space may be a priority. Businesses that have operated quite successfully with remote working may decide that they need less office space. Retailers who have adapted to selling online may want more warehouse space and less shop space. Checking the terms of leases for the right to terminate early will be important.

There will also be some lockdown problems to resolve. Will landlords press for payment of unpaid rents that have accrued, allow these to be re-scheduled or write them off?