Government urged to define a ‘safe move’ to bring property market out of lockdown

5-5-2020

The nation is awaiting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for easing lockdown – due to be released toward the end of this week – but industry leaders have presented their own ideas for the property market. Property data company Landmark Information Group, broker network Mortgage Advice Bureau and conveyancing firm Simplify, have issued a four-step plan to the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to get the sector operating again. The organisations have proposed that the Government define a ‘safe move’ with the property industry that is backed by Public Health England so sales can complete and people can move as ‘stay at home’ measures are phased out. The group also calls for lenders to honour mortgage offers to those part-way through a transaction and for businesses involved with the home moving process to be able to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond the restart of the market so they can rebuild their income. Finally, it is suggested that a fiscal stimulus will be needed to speed up the property market recovery. Some companies such as Zoopla have previously suggested a Stamp Duty holiday beyond just first-time buyers may be required. Simon Brown, chief executive of Landmark Information Group, said: “We share the Government’s view that it is critical this crisis is a short, sharp shock to the economy rather than an extended depression. “However, we are concerned that without a plan the housing market and home movers will experience the same uncertainty that followed the financial crisis. “Protecting the housing market at this crucial time will help grow the UK economy and avoid a costly downward spiral. “We know that Government is also keen to achieve this, and our priority is to work with them to ensure the right short- and medium-term decisions are taken.” Ben Thompson, deputy chief executive of Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “We need a truly joined up approach that recognises that all those working across our sector must be able to operate again, co-ordinating seamlessly, in order for the market to recover.” David Grossman, chief executive of Simplify, added: ”At the appropriate time it is critical that there is equally clear guidance to consumers and industry to allow the market to restart and to recover. “Our priority is to work with Government and others in the industry to establish this. While we know there are economic consequences from a dysfunctional housing market there are also significant social implications, making it essential that the market recovers as quickly as possible.”

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