This article has been updated:
As movers navigate the post-lockdown housing ladder, Halifax said many will be looking for help on what this now looks like and what it means for the next step on the property ladder.
Tom Martin, mortgages director at Halifax, said: “With the housing market slowing right down last month, it left many people at a loose end – whether that involved delaying plans to buy, extending rental agreements, or being required to move in with relatives or friends.
“With the positive news that physical valuations can take place again and estate agents opening. we are seeing an increase in mortgage application calls, but as we enter unchartered waters even experienced purchasers and sellers may not be sure what the right moves are.
“For first time buyers looking to take that initial step, the situation offers new opportunities but with that a lot of questions.”
Mr Martin said Halifax is seeing strong demand for people to get moving as soon as possible.
“However, we would suggest taking time to do the research and seek expert advice before doing so. Finding the right home has never mattered more,” he said.
Six top tips from Halifax on home buying in the current environment:
1. Prepare to be patient: Physical valuations are starting up again and this is positive news for people looking to move or buy. Many estate agents have adapted to offering virtual tours. While these are great, getting the feel of a home and the local area should always be an essential part of the process. However, with several million Brits currently social distancing and some with concerns about the economy, there will likely be strains on all parts of the housing chain. This means the process could be slower than normal. Keep in mind that some third parties such as solicitors and conveyors may have less capacity and the process may be a bit slower than normal.
2. Keep documents up to date: Before speaking to a mortgage adviser, make sure all your income details, bank statements and pay cheques are up to date and you have them prepared before the first meeting. The more accurate information you can provide from the offset, the smoother the process will be.
3. What if I have been furloughed? From a Halifax perspective, our conditions largely remain the same for those applying for mortgages and we recognise furloughed income. Many people have changing circumstances which is why it is important to bring all the latest information with you.
4. Be realistic: For those selling, there will be lots of speculation over the coming weeks about house prices going down, but we should remember we are in unprecedented times. With market activity currently almost at a complete standstill, and therefore a more limited number of transactions, it will take time for the true trend to emerge. Consider looking at a trusted house price website as well as talking to a number of local estate agents who can share local expertise on the area.
5. Go online first: Call centres may be particularly busy over the next few weeks as the housing market reopens. The quickest way to find out how much you can borrow will be on lenders’ websites. For example, the Halifax mortgage finder tool helps to ease the process of research and applying for a new mortgage online. It works by asking people for some simple details of their current mortgage, term and property value followed by what is important in terms of repayments and then detail of future plans. The Halifax online mortgage agreement in principle tool is also worth investigating as it means you can take the first step to buying, moving home or remortgaging your home within ten minutes.
6. Remortgaging: This has been the strongest part of the mortgage market recently, with the majority of current applications being for remortgages. With the current low interest rate environment, it is a good time for homeowners to investigate their options as it could save them hundreds of pounds every year.