HOUSE buyers could ask for as much as 20 per cent to be knocked off their purchase prices as the coronavirus crisis makes people nervous about the market.
Agents have suggested that uncertainty around whether house prices will fall later in the year has left buyers wanting to secure a discount.
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This, coupled with a likely increase in the number of people forced to sell their home because of their financial position or personal circumstances such as death or divorce, might mean there are more sellers needing to complete a deal quickly.
Estate agents were allowed to reopen again yesterday having stopped trading when the UK entered its lockdown period in late March.
But they have to follow strict social distancing rules, such as carrying out viewings via video.
An estimated 450,000 moves have been on hold and agents have reported being busy in the last 24 hours.
Property website Rightmove said online viewings were up 45 per cent yesterday morning, while searches for mortgage deals were up 18 per cent on last week, according to comparison site MoneySuperMarket.
Henry Pryor, a buying agent, said: “House prices are opening up where they left off at the beginning of March but we don’t know at what prices those deals will actually be made.
“Many will be done by people who have to sell quickly – so I would ask what will they take from buyers who feel they are taking a risk in terms of where the value of the property will be by Christmas?”
He suggested that buyers could ask for reductions of up to 20 per cent to take into account the added risk of buying at a time when the future of the market is so unknown.
But he said that sellers might end up agreeing to a reduction of between five and 10 per cent.
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Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at estate agency Hamptons International, which sells homes across the country, said: “As far as we can see, prices are holding at the moment.
“But the closer you get to London, the more people are trying to negotiate.
“Buyers are aware they’re making a purchase in times of uncertainty and when no one really understands the full impact [of the coronavirus crisis] on the housing market.”
But other agents have suggested that sales have continued as before as both buyers and sellers are keen to get deals moving again after almost eight weeks of delays.
Jeff Doble, chairman and founder of Dexters: said: “All of our offices are open and immediately very busy indeed; we are bringing back more staff from furlough today Friday, Saturday and on Monday.
“Buyers and tenants are getting out and seeing "that place they loved the video of" and we already have some competitive bidding going on.”
According to Halifax, house prices fell by £2,000 in a month as the property market hit a standstill.
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