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Airbnb, life after lockdown, property searches, and housing market news

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Inevitably, our brief roundup of what’s hitting the property news headlines is all about Covid-19 and the impact of the coronavirus crisis on practically every aspect of our lives at the moment.

Against that backdrop, here are a further four snippets of housing news.

Calls to support Airbnb properties with credit notes, not refunds

Letting Agent Today on the 18th of May carried an appeal from the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) for government to go easy on restrictions on inward travel to the UK from abroad.

As other areas of lockdown are now being eased, the STAA is hoping for renewed stimulus for the short lets sector including:

  • business rates holidays and grants – extended to the short lets businesses in the same way as other sectors of the economy;
  • legislation allowing short lets businesses to issue vouchers and credit notes in place of cash refunds;
  • changing the eligibility for Future Fund government loans; and
  • allowing foreign visitors to self-isolate in short term accommodation.

Property life after lockdown

Confidence appears to be growing, amongst both sellers and buyers, that the property market may bounce back post-lockdown.

This was the conclusion reached by a “sentiment survey” cited in an article by Property Reporter last week.

The article revealed a drop in the number of sellers fearing that the current crisis would negatively affect the sale of their home. Two weeks ago, 42% of those surveyed expressed such fears, while that proportion has now fallen to just 33%.

Although 64% of vendors recognise that the sale of their home might be delayed – by between three and twelve months – 75% nevertheless intend to proceed with marketing their property in the year ahead.

As far as buyers are concerned, 43% are still saying that they would not choose to make an offer on a property during the current lockdown – and this is a slight reduction on the 46% who expressed such an opinion two weeks ago.

Online property searches return to pre-lockdown levels

That return to confidence in the market was also reflected in a surge in the number of property searches being made online, according to Landlord Today.

Listings site Rightmove recorded its highest number of unique searches in a single day since September of last year. The tally was 5.2 million searches – an increase of 4% on the same day in 2019.

The way in which the housing market appears to be bouncing back has caught some commentators by surprise. Although any return to anything like normal activity had not been expected until June at the earliest, pent-up demand and the recent reopening of the market have seen a surge in interest.

The opening of the housing market welcomed by landlords

Provided regular social distancing precautions continue to be followed, landlords can once again show prospective tenants around premises to let, make new tenancy agreements, and allow tenants to move into and out of let property.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the National Landlords Association (NLA) welcomed the government’s decision to reopen the housing market after its recent temporary suspension.

Reopening was accompanied by government guidance for landlords on the way in which let property might be marketed to potential tenants, the safety checks which need to be made in preparation for new tenancies, and the checking-in of new tenants.

Landlords are urged to keep safety first and foremost, preserve social distancing measures and respect the need to safeguard their own and their tenants’ health. This is especially important during those times when person to person contact might otherwise be the order of the day – such as viewings, taking up references, inventory checks, and check-ins. Wherever possible, therefore, face to face encounters might be avoided by conducting the business virtually.