People urged not to move as UK housing market freezes
THE government has urged people to avoid moving house during the coronavirus outbreak as the pandemic brings the country's property market to a near standstill.
Latest official guidance says that while there is no need to pull out of transactions, people needed to stay away from others at all times.
Buyers and renters should delay moving while emergency stay-at-home measures are in place, it said.
The comments come as banks are pressing for a full suspension of the UK housing market, with lenders concerned about the effect of the pandemic on valuations, according to a report by the Financial Times.
It claimed banks are also worried about granting mortgages during this period of extreme economic uncertainty.
UK Finance, the banking industry body, said banks would grant homebuyers who have exchanged contracts the possibility of moving at a later date by extending their mortgage offer for up to three months.
"Lenders recognise that many people looking to move into their new home are facing significant stress and uncertainty due to the impacts of coronavirus," UK Finance boss Stephen Jones said.
"Current social distancing measures mean many house moves will need to be delayed," he added.
Property listings websites say that interest in moving home has slumped amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Zoopla said demand in the week to March fell 40 per cent from the week before and it predicted housing transactions would drop by up to 60 per cent over the next three months.
· A headline on Thursday's business page should have said house sales could fall 60 per cent in three months, not house prices. The error has been corrected online.