Coronavirus could halt the growing rise in house prices, according to experts.
Asking prices were close to an all-time high at the end of February, and the construction sector was reported to have grown at its fastest pace in more than a year. But the ubiquitous impact of coronavirus could grind this ascendancy to a halt.
Rightmove Director Miles Shipside said: “The market has been waiting for several years for a window of certainty, and 2020 seemed set to be the year when many would look to make a move. However, the current fast pace of the housing market could now be temporarily affected by the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.”
This uncertainty was echoed by Andrew Burrell, from research firm Capital Economics, who expects house prices to stagnate before rising again later in the year.
“The market will probably grind to a halt, as people won’t be wanting to go out for viewings or have strangers in their home, but because there will be both fewer sellers and fewer buyers, I don’t see any big changes in prices,” he said.
The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, with businesses instructing employees to work from home where possible. At the time of writing, however, there is no lockdown on UK services and trades, meaning those selling their home can still host viewings.
Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, said: “The UK housing market has remained steady heading into early spring. But, looking ahead, there are a number of risks, including the potential impact of coronavirus, which continue to exert pressure on the economy and we wait to see how these will affect housing market sentiment later in the year.”
Could Coronavirus Affect Self Builders?
The construction sector worked as normal today, but coronavirus poses a challenge for the industry that could yet extend to those building, extending or renovating a house. There is potential for self build schedules and costs to be affected if builders are either not able to arrive on time or prevented from travelling to the site and if they are unable to obtain required materials.
Jason Orme, Content Director of Homebuilding & Renovating, said those with a homebuilding project underway should consider taking additional measures as part of the build process.
“Self builders have a duty of care to provide handwashing facilities on site if they’re directly employing tradespeople, and the current health emergency only heightens the need for them to both provide and enforce that,” he said.
“Managing a building site is exactly the same as managing an office, and as a result the self builder should take their responsibilities under the Health & Safety Act seriously.”
Self builders should also establish a site lockdown plan in the event of a tradespeople contracting coronavirus, review supply chains, and develop contingency plans in the event of materials being delayed.