There’s one key takeaway for agents from the weekend’s announcements on the next England-wide lockdown – the housing market is staying open.
However, there will be some short-notice changes on the fringes of agency activity.
This includes an extension to the owner occupiers’ and landlords’ mortgage holiday; and an extension of the furlough system. Both are being extended until at least the scheduled end of the latest lockdown, which is December 2.
An announcement is expected from the Financial Conduct Authority today concerning the extended mortgage holiday, which began in the spring and should have finished on Saturday October 31 – just 48 hours ago. It is thought likely that the extension will be for another six months.
Under the old system, owner occupiers and landlords who needed help were able to request a payment holiday until October 31 – this is now to be extended, along with the corresponding ban on repossessions.
As before, future mortgage payment holidays and partial payment holidays under this government initiative will not have a negative impact on credit files.
For agents and industry suppliers with staff who were expected to come off furlough on October 31, the Saturday just gone, there may be relief that the scheme is to be temporarily extended until the end of the England lockdown on December 2.
Employees will receive four-fifths of their current salary up to a maximum of £2,500..
In the meantime the housing market will remain open.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, says: “It is essential all agents continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus through following all relevant guidance. Agents must operate in accordance with government and Propertymark guidelines, to keep the market moving through these uncertain times.”
Statements by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government over the weekend both gave a ‘stay calm and carry on’ message to agents and the industry, urging people to continue following existing guidance.