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Covid-19 property rescue remedy

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The lockdown has the property industry in turmoil but there is plenty stakeholders can do to improve the situation

The Covid-19 situation has left all players in the property sector unsettled and uncertain how to survive through the pandemic lockdown and the months following it.

Buyers, sellers, agents and owners are faced with unique challenges and are trying to navigate these as best as they can. Here are some pointers:

Buyers
Some advantages:

◆ Property prices are low – it was a buyer’s market pre-Covid-19 and is now even more so.
◆ The prime interest rate was recently cut to 8.75%, just 0.25% above the lowest level in 25 years. David Sedgwick, managing director of Horizon Capital, says more cuts are expected this year. This will assist in terms of affordability for new loans.  
◆ Banks are eager to lend to qualifying buyers.

During lockdown:
◆ Continue to search online and be ready to view properties, virtually or physically, when lockdown is lifted. 
◆ Ensure your finances are in order and that you have the correct documents ready for home loan applications.

Sellers
◆ Have your property available to view online. Sellers with properties currently on the market, and available for online viewing, will be at an advantage in that buyers have time to scour for properties while at home. 
◆ Readjust your expectations of selling price. The country was already experiencing a buyer’s market before Covid-19 and these conditions are expected to worsen in the short term. Those who do not need to sell would be wise to hold out until market conditions improve.
◆ Take the time you have available during lockdown to prepare your home for viewing, both online and in person, once lockdown ends.


Estate agents

◆ Continue marketing properties to buyers, and for sellers, until the Deeds Office is reopened and lockdown is over.
◆ Use technology to host “show days” virtually and keep up communication with prospective buyers and sellers. 
◆ Use the lockdown period to upskill by taking relevant courses.


Homeowners

◆ As far as possible, keep up with mortgage repayments over this trying period. 
Those who have financial worries and cannot meet their existing mortgage payments, for example if they are out of work, should contact their home loan provider as soon as possible to discuss their options. Banks have put measures in place to assist individuals. 
◆ Create and stick to adjusted budgets and avoid “payday loans”, otherwise known as cash advances.

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