The social distancing measures put in place as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic have had a dramatic impact on the Scottish property market, which was experiencing high levels of activity at the start of 2020. Scottish Government guidance advice that house moves should be delayed if possible, means that property sales volumes have dropped considerably compared to last year.

Similarly, the stay at home guidance means most surveyors are choosing to delay the completion of Home Reports until after the current restrictions have been lifted. In Scotland, most properties need a Home Report before they can be brought to market. This means the number of homes coming to market is also significantly down year–on-year.

However, while the current guidance is preventing property sale transactions being completed and homes coming to market, evidence from ESPC agents suggests that demand to buy and sell property in Scotland continues and people are waiting until after the lockdown restrictions have been lifted to do so.

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Properties coming to market and virtual property valuations

Property viewings and offers

Property buyer and seller interest on espc.com

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Properties coming to market and virtual property valuations

Due to the current social distancing measures, there are far fewer properties able to come to market than usual for this time of year. However, this doesn’t mean that people aren’t looking to sell their home.

Many ESPC agents have reported that they have multiple properties waiting to come to market once the current lockdown measures have been lifted. Some of these selling enquiries have only been made in the last few weeks.

A recent survey completed by 37 of our member solicitor estate agents indicated that the majority of agents had five or more properties waiting to come to market after lockdown, while 27% of the agents that responded had 10 or more.

Maurice Allan, Residential Property Managing Director at Lindsays, said: “Whilst the residential property market has effectively been put on hold due to the current lockdown, it is clear that there are significant numbers of sellers who are patiently waiting for the end of the restrictions to place their property on the market. We have demand from sellers across the market sectors who are keen to move when able to do so.

“Reasons for selling remain the same as pre-lockdown: upsizing, downsizing and job moves being the main drivers, but there are also properties which need to be sold due to divorce or as part of an executory. Many of those sellers will also be buyers so it is clear that the market will have the important supply and demand elements once the lockdown is lifted.”

Jayne McAllister from Cameron Stephen said: “We have a number of properties which will be coming to the market once the lockdown is lifted. These range from ones which were almost ready to be marketed when the stay at home guidance was announced and the clients decided not to proceed to the market at that time, to a few which were due to come on to the market during the lockdown.

“There's also some people who have successfully purchased during the lockdown and have been given some time to market their own property, and a few who have been preparing their properties for marketing during the current social distancing measures so they are ready to go as soon as the restrictions are lifted. This indicates people are still eager to get their homes on the market."

Many ESPC agents have adapted to offer virtual property valuations for those thinking of selling their home. This allows them to provide an estimate of a property’s value after viewing it over a video call, enabling a homeowner to get started on the selling journey, so they are prepared to bring it to market when the social distancing measures are eased.

Property viewings and offers

The current social distancing measures mean that in person property viewings are not available. However, many ESPC agents have adapted and offer virtual property viewings for interested buyers. Those that aren’t able to offer virtual property viewings can still make a lot of information available to buyers, with the schedule, photographs and Home Report online.

Those agents offering virtual property viewings have generally reported reasonable interest from buyers. In some cases, offers have been agreed from a virtual property viewing.

Agents not offering virtual property viewings are also reporting offers being agreed, with the buyer relying on the photographs and other information available to them. In some of these cases and those where a property has been viewed virtually, buyers are choosing to offer or note interest subject to a viewing once the current restrictions have been lifted.

Of course, there are many buyers who will prefer to view the property once the current restrictions have been lifted before making an offer. Many agents are also reporting that buyers are requesting to view properties once it is safe to do so.

Kevin Conway, Property Negotiator at Clancys Solicitors, said: “We have been seeing a steady stream of incoming enquiries, with the majority for the Home Report and property details. I think in the main most potential purchasers are now accepting the position of not being able to view and are asking to view when it is safe to do so. Properties in or around the £200,000 bracket are proving most popular and 90% of these are for first time buyers.”

These reports suggest that there are buyers in Scotland who are interested in purchasing a home, with some choosing to offer at this stage while others are waiting until after the restrictions have lifted.

Property buyer and seller interest on espc.com

The imposed lockdown measures towards the end of March resulted in a decline in property buyer and seller interest metrics recorded on espc.com, such as web traffic, Home Report downloads, viewing requests and valuation requests.

However, in the last couple of weeks, and as ESPC agents have innovated by introducing virtual viewings and valuations, we have seen some of these metrics show small signs of improvement. These are still lower than usual for this time of year, but the increases suggest there is demand to buy and sell property in Scotland after the social distancing measures have been lifted.

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said: “The current social distancing measures have resulted in a significant year-on-year decrease in both property sales volume and the number of homes brought to market. However, reports from our agents suggests there is a healthy number of buyers and sellers ready to enter the market when lockdown measures are lifted.

“After declining at the end of March, we have more recently seen growth in the download of Home Reports and schedules from the website, and we have also seen an increase in the number of people looking at properties online. With increased time spent at home, it is possible that people could be motivated to look for a property that suits their needs better.”

Find out more

Read our advice for property buyers and sellers during Coronavirus COVID-19. For the most up-to-date guidance, contact an ESPC agent or make use of our free property advice phone service.

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