It is official. The UK housing market has restarted albeit with Covid-19 restrictions in place.

This has a knock-on effect for advisers who were furloughed at the start of the coronavirus crisis in March as lenders pulled their products and people were advised by the government not to move home.

However, fast-forward a couple of months, consumer interest in the UK housing market has once again experienced an upsurge as buyers, sellers and renters return to the market.

Alpa Bhakta, CEO of Butterfield Mortgages says since the government has announced the restart to the housing market: “Estate agents and listing sites have recorded a surge in enquiries from prospective buyers and sellers, which could signal the beginning of a post-pandemic market recovery.”

However, in relation to lending some banks and mortgage lenders have retreated from the market by reducing the number of products and services on offer and refusing to accept new enquiries, according to Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions.

Drawing from his own experiences, Raja explains how specialist finance lenders have stepped in and filled the void left by the  banks.

Andrew Montlake, managing director at UK-wide mortgage broker, Coreco says: “It’s great that the government has recognised the importance of the housing market to the wider UK economy, and many anxious buyers will be relieved that they can now continue with their transactions after weeks in limbo.

“There is still a long way to go before we have a fully functional housing market, but this is a tentative first step in the right direction and cause for celebration.

“The great unknown is how cautious surveyors will be with their valuations and lenders their criteria but that will become apparent in the days and weeks ahead.

“It’s essential that firms do not rush their staff back before they have the requisite safety measures in place, although all the agents we speak to are adhering to the very highest standards.

“It’s vital that all those working in the property industry, as well as buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, are kept as safe as possible.

“This is a chance for everyone in the property market to show their professionalism and lead from the front.”

Cautious optimism

Antony Stackhouse, sales & operations director, firstmortgage.co.uk says: “As a principally Scottish based company our property markets have not yet opened up, in contrast to England. However, [the month of] May has shown significant real growth in interest and appetite.

Stackhouse adds: “We have seen a 12% rise year-on-year in online enquiries in May. Having kept two-thirds of our advisers working over this period, we have been able to cope with this growth, especially as very few can complete a purchase right now.

“We are now planning the return of further advisers as the markets open up and interest turns to actual purchase transactions. This will likely take another month.  Our branch in Manchester is starting to see the benefits of an opening market coming to fruition over the last week or so and we are already running our full adviser team there.”

Further reading

Negative interest rate debate becomes ‘very real’ as UK inflation drops to 0.8%

Equity release to hit the mainstream within 10 years says advisers

Is the buy-to-let market still ‘alive and kicking’?