The news today that the Government has moved to help bring some clarity to the housing market in these unprecedented times has to be welcomed.
Of course, there are no steps that can be taken to help the market revert to anything like normality and obviously there are far more important things at stake than house moves.
That said, the picture in the last couple of weeks has been chaotic for those caught in the storm.
As everyone knows, moving house is seen as one of the most stressful things we do in normal times and these are not normal times.
Therefore, overnight the Government has agreed with the banks that the time limits on mortgage offers should be relaxed to bring some much-needed flexibility and this has to be welcomed.
We are dealing with many people caught in this no man’s land – where we are re-negotiating completion dates on the basis of mortgage offer time frames, whilst knowing full well that the completion date could not possibly be met because of the current Covid-19 restrictions.
We might be just one third of the way through our three-week lockdown, but I think most people assume that may well be extended.
Most people caught in chains understand the disruption, but now, after this latest edict, we can start to agree completion dates as far as July, but by bringing them forward by agreement we should start to emerge from the crisis and some normality returns.
There are some exceptions and we are finding that in most cases people are being understanding. We have one couple for example, who are buying a house which is currently empty and only one street away.
They were going to put their move on ice, but they are aware that their buyers are living in temporary accommodation which is unsuitable and causing real issues, so they have agreed to carry what they need – keeping distance from other passers-by – to allow that move to happen.
But then we have one couple who have sold their home and moved into an Airbnb, and the latest crackdown may mean they cannot move to their next home as it is occupied. The sellers were going to go off in their caravan to allow things to progress - but all caravan parks are closed.
There are bound to be many cases like that, where people up and down the chain are conflicted between concerns for health – which must come first – and the needs of others in the transactional process.
We are finding, however, that the new-build, shared ownership and first-time buyer markets are still moving along because at some stage we have to emerge from the current situation and people have to think in the longer term.
We are continuing the help all our clients to try and find a way through in a very the current malaise and, I have to say, the level of understanding and the willingness to compromise is refreshing – and it would be uplifting to think that this will continue when the world returns to normality.