Three of the highest profile industry suppliers and house moving services have given government a four-step plan to restart the housing market and let people buy and sell once again.
Landmark Information Group, Mortgage Advice Bureau and Simplify – who each provide different services to home buyers and sellers as well as the industry – have jointly written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outlining how the industry can resume working.
The trio say that “to give consumers the confidence to move, Public Health England endorsement of these proposals will be essential” and their letter to Jenrick follows a series of virtual meetings between the three organisations and government officials.
A statement from the three companies states: “Businesses across the home moving process face particular challenges from Covid-19. The time it takes for the pipeline of transactions to be rebuilt, and the receipt of income on completion by many in the sector mean the right policy decisions by government are essential to support the market’s recovery.”
It continues: “The market has the potential to act as an important catalyst for the wider economic recovery: home movers on average spend £12 billion per annum on furnishings, improvements and appliances supporting small businesses and the high street.”
The proposals are that the government must:
- Quickly define a ‘safe move’ and ensure that the sector is one of the first to be allowed to reopen under the phasing out of the lockdown;
- Ensure that those who were part way through a transaction when the lockdown began are protected by lenders continuing, where feasible, to honour mortgage offers;
- Provide a fiscal stimulus for the market, enabling a speedier recovery;
- Ensure the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is extended for businesses operating in the home moving process beyond the restart of the market, to allow firms to rebuild income.
“We believe that we have a responsibility to join others who are campaigning on this and taking the lead in supporting the recovery of the wider sector at this critical time. 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” explains Ben Thompson, deputy chief executive of Mortgage Advice Bureau.
Landmark Information Group, part of the Daily Mail General Trust, is a major supplier of land and property search information, including digital mapping, environmental risk reports and sophisticated property management tools to agents and other property professionals.
Mortgage Advice Bureau has over 1,400 advisers across the UK, while Simplify is a major conveyancing group incorporating four of the largest conveyancers in England and Wales - My Home Move, DC Law, JS Law and Advantage Property Lawyers.
Their letter to the Secretary of State comes just hours after Countrywide issued a dramatic open letter to government, outlining the importance of the agency industry to the national economy, and explaining how relatively straightforward it would be to abide by social distancing measures if agents were allowed to return to their offices.
And at the end of last week of a campaign was launched by NAEA Propertymark calling for the market to resume in an orderly, safe and incentivised fashion. The association wants the government to introduce what it calls a Property Sector Support Package. This would include so-called 'contactless viewings', a £1,500 loan to buyers who complete a purchase, and a stamp duty holiday to kick-start the market.