Coronavirus has created a "coma" in a very stable property economy.
I think the market will open after lockdown with asking prices generally where they were in February this year. Buyers will feel hesitant initially as they step back into their jobs again - all employers have no doubt been analysing how could they do their business more online, and this is an opportune time for those with technical skills to try to change how they run their business.
Fewer face to face meetings are certainly going to take place for the foreseeable future as video calls have proven very effective.
When it comes to house sales there have been very few viewings, so naturally there is a dip in quantity of sales, but this has created an appetite to acquire a new home if that was already their plans. The reopening of Land Registry will facilitate sale completions once again.
It usually takes two to six months after any seismic change in the economy for markets to gain confidence again - that's the case even after elections and the Brexit referendum.
Lenders have to play their part in creating stability. For example, banks lending at 85-90% loan to value levels will create stability and confidence instantly.
Pre-coronavirus, in Northern Ireland we had not witnessed an overheated market, in fact we have seen a very stable economy for the past five years. The growth in the CPS database of 18% for new property enquiries for the past seven weeks is a clear market indicator. This is reassuring, and we at CPS are confident that the demand is awaiting once viewings are taking place.
The commercial property sector is most concerning. Retailers will need the most support post Covid-19 in order to compete with the even more established online competition like Amazon.
The pattern of shopping has once again swung away from the high street, where expensive rates are charged, and landlords are levied with 50% rates for vacant commercial units. This is a policy that needs adapted.
Until a NAV takes place commercial property will have negative impact on property sales values across the province. This extensive review is long overdue and needs completed imminently before our high streets are decimated.
The rental market, I feel, is stable, demand has remained high and the likelihood of new social housing construction is very slight. Interest rates remaining low and lenders have confirmed availability for buy to let mortgages, which is very reassuring.
CPS has continued to work remotely throughout the pandemic fully in compliance with all government guidelines for our valued client base.
The next step we intend is working from the branches in a phased approach, with viewing commencing properly early June depending on direction from local government.
We in Northern Ireland have limited public transport commuters therefore travelling to work is usually by car. If you can bike, this will be encouraged. If your job can be done from home, employers are likely to be encouraging this if you are more productive from there.
CPS will be very protective of their valued staff and customers until a vaccine is found, whether in months or years time.
CPS has branches in Belfast, Omagh, Dungannon, Armagh, Portadown, London and Marbella. During the recent downtime CPS has been doing a "2k in May Challenge" to acquire PPE for front line workers. The aim is to complete 2,000km walking, running or biking while raising £2k. To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/cps-2000-kilometers-for-the-frontline