Peer-to-peer lenders have given a cautious welcome to the reopening of the property market.
The property market effectively shut down in March, with most non-essential workers ordered to work from home and while lending and socially-distanced valuations have continued, the government has today (13 March) said sales activity such as viewings, sales progression and the full surveying process can restart in England.
Most expect a gradual restart though and there is even concern that these actions are premature.
“It is obviously good news that the property market is slowly opening up although we would expect that a real pick-up will not be noticeable for some time and not until the pandemic passes or is fully under control,” Filip Karadaghi, managing director of buy-to-let P2P lender LandlordInvest, said.
“I would say that the opening may appear to be a bit pre-mature but I also understand the government’s willingness to kickstart the economy.”
Karadaghi had previously said his platform was in talks about institutional funding prior to the pandemic but he added that he wasn’t expecting any real progress for at least a few more months on this.
Stuart Law, founder of Assetz Capital, said there was a delicate balance between the health of the nation and the economic consequences of a prolonged lockdown.
He agreed that the restart would be slow.
“Sales activity is expected to restart sluggishly and will be linked in part to mortgage availability and loan-to-values, as well as relying on valuers being able to act too,” Law said.
There does still seem to be plenty of demand in the market though.
Law said there is a large pipeline of development projects coming through to the Assetz Capital platform and it is a similar story for CrowdProperty.
Mike Bristow, chief executive of CrowdProperty, said the platform is still lending but with tighter criteria.
“We have had valuations being done throughout the Covid-19 period, again where it is safe to do so,” he said.
“This is done strictly on drive-by plus with the walking of sites/properties that are arranged to be vacant on point of survey including contactless key handover.
“The majority of CrowdProperty loan types and the pipeline are this type of product that can be surveyed in this manner and can all be privately driven to throughout the regions of the UK.
“Independent monitoring surveyor reports have typically been done by webcam or Facetime.”