Could more Londoners move to Suffolk as housing market reopens?
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A Suffolk estate agent has predicted that the reopening of the housing market could cause people to move from London to Suffolk.
Government regulations around buying and selling homes were relaxed on Tuesday night, reopening the property market.
In a statement to MPs, Robert Jenrick - secretary of state for housing, communities and local government - said: “We want to be clear, each of the building blocks of the buying and the selling process are now back in business, as long as they can be done safely.
“This is the most radical restarting of an industry in the first phase of our national recovery road map.
“This was not an easy decision to make.
“But I do know that in every economic recovery in modern British history, the housing market has been key.
“So let me be clear to all who work in the sector, have started a business in it, have invested in it, or rely upon it - I’m doing everything I can to help the industry bounce back.”
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Estate agents first heard that the market would reopen on Tuesday evening.
Tim Dansie, director at Jackson-Stops, said: “I got an email on Tuesday night telling me that the estate agents would be allowed back out to play.
“On the back of that, myself and two colleagues have come into the office to man the phones and deal with enquiries.
“After being off for nearly eight weeks, it’s a bit strange being back in the seat again.”
Chris Philpot, senior partner at Lacy Scott & Knight, said: “We’re going to try and walk before we can run. At the moment we’re putting the final touches on our safety measures in light of all the government advice, with a view of restarting properly in a couple of days time.”
One of the most important issues to resolve is how to conduct viewings safely.
Mr Philpot said: “Most clients are fairly positive about it, but we accept that some won’t wish to have people wandering around their homes.
“We’re certainly looking at the virtual side, but I don’t think anything beats seeing a property in the flesh.”
Mr Dansie said: “I’ve got one property at the moment where they’ve seen all the pictures, videos and particulars but they want to see it in the flesh before they make any decisions.
“To be honest, I’d feel uncomfortable accepting a bid from somebody who hadn’t actually seen the property.”
Mark Oliver, who leads the residential team in the East of England for Savills, echoed that sentiment.
He said: “Many buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants have had plans on hold and will now be keen to show and view properties in person.
“The detailed guidance will allow this process to begin once strict protocols have been put in place.
“However, we also recognise that there will be many others for whom in person viewings and valuations are not yet possible or the preferred option, and therefore virtual viewings and appraisals, used very successfully throughout lockdown, will continue to play an important role in our market, particularly in assisting buyers in selecting a short list of properties for actual viewing.”
Mr Dansie said since the market reopened, there the number of enquiries have been steady.
But going forward, it is difficult to predict where the market will go.
Mr Philpot said: “It’s to early to tell.
“We don’t know the effect that this is all having on peoples income and their confidence.
“But the housing market traditionally is quite positive.”
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Mr Dansie thinks there is a possibility that the experience of lockdown could bring people who previously lived in London to Suffolk.
He said: “A lot of people have been remote working and have discovered that a lot of work can be done from home.
“You don’t have to be stuck to the city, you can work from the rural surrounds of Suffolk. You can do two or three days at home and two or three days in the office.
“In the past if you lived in the country and worked in the city, you were a regular on the train. So it is quite a nice way of breaking it up by working from home.”
Despite the country moving into a recession, both Mr Philpot and Mr Dansie say they do not see a major shift in prices coming any time soon.