A major consumer survey of existing home owners and potential movers has resulted in a plea to government to allow house moves to resume - and to introduce a 12 month stamp duty holiday when the time is right.
The HomeOwners Alliance, which undertakes an annual survey into the housing market and owners’ perceptions of the property industry, suggests that many people are suffering anxiety over the size of their current homes in the lockdown.
The survey - carried out online by polling organisation YouGov, and conducted during the lockdown - shows that over a fifth of owners have housing issues arising from the lockdown, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they are struggling to pay domestic bills.
Of those affected by the lockdown, some 16 per cent say they have stalled, interrupted or abandoned plans to buy and sell.
The top concern for homeowners with a mortgage who had housing issues or concerns was about being able to sustain their mortgage payments or having to ask their lender for a mortgage holiday.
Of homeowners with housing issues arising from coronavirus, almost one in 10 owners worry about losing their job compared with only three per cent among affected renters.
Regionally, Londoners register the highest level of housing concern as a result of the pandemic - 27 per cent in the capital against an average of 22 per cent nationally.
“While we’ve heard from housing industry groups worried about their businesses this is the first research highlighting homeowners’ concerns. Our study was conducted in early April, so it is highly likely concerns around paying rent, mortgages and bills, and the impact of isolation on mental health has rocketed in the subsequent four weeks of lockdown” explains Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance.
“That is why we are calling on the government to ensure the housing market is one of the first sectors to be re-started, once it is safe to do so” she continues.
“The human impact and multiplier effect of getting the housing market going is clear: people can move for jobs, a growing family or to downsize. Mortgage lenders in turn will feel confident in lending to first time buyers with smaller deposits. And a myriad of different jobs can be revived, from house builders, conveyancing firms, estate agents, surveyors, removals companies, architects, home improvement firms and more, all feeling the benefits” Higgins adds.
“However, it would be naive to think that lifting restrictions is all it would take to get people moving. The housing market is driven by confidence. That is why we are calling for a 12 month stamp duty holiday. This would incentivise families who can afford to move to get on and do so, giving the housing market and all the related sectors the kick start they need.”