Housing market is ‘suspended’ as banks tell Government valuations are ‘impossible’

Banks are calling for the whole housing market to be suspended during the crisis and this morning The Times front page lead story said it had already happened.

It splashes with the headline: “Virus prompts No 10 to suspend housing market”.

The Times headline and story comes after mounting pressure from lenders to put the market on ice. The Times today concludes that the housing market is suspended anyway, with viewings cancelled, instructions to people to delay moving, and mortgage finance drying up.

The Daily Mail’s front page splash headline is “Don’t move home”. Its story says that the housing market is “all but frozen”, calling it a shut-down, and says banks have been lobbying for a full freeze on the property market.

Today’s Telegraph business section carries the splash: “Government suspends the housing market”.  The paper says that the housing market “was halted last night by the Government after financial institutions said they could no longer operate properly”.

Today on BBC’s Radio 4 broadcast a similar report this morning, and the Financial Times is covering lenders’ concerns.

But an agent last night warned against banks trying to undermine the market rather than support it, and called on the Government to ignore lenders’ demands.

Banks pressing to freeze the market have expressed concern to ministers about the impact of the pandemic on valuations.

They have also expressed concern about giving credit when the economy is in freefall.

Lenders have told ministers that it has become impossible to survey properties.

UK Finance, the trade body for lenders, has written to its members saying it is seeking urgent clarification over the future of the market, “particularly as physical property valuations are no longer possible”.

One property lawyer, Laura Conduit at Farrers, told the Financial Times that banks will have to decide whether they can rely on valuations using videos of properties.

She said: “We haven’t got a clue what the value of anything is.”

Agent James White, of Yorkshire agent Belong, told EYE last night: “Time and time again, whenever there is a wobble in the property market, the banks can be relied on to undermine it.

“This time around, the market needs the full support of the banking system in order to avoid a collapse in confidence and house prices.

“If they implement a complete stop, who knows what will happen to house prices and repossession numbers?”

He added: “Given that the underlying fundamentals of low interest rates, steady demand and excellent employment levels created stability before the coronavirus pandemic, surely it is in everyone’s interest not to add to the woes of the economy and property market.”

Some lenders, including Lloyds and Barclays, have pulled many of their products, and some will only lend to borrowers with deposits of at least 40%.

Lenders have also said that their call centres are clogged with anxious home owners requesting mortgage holidays.

All told, tens of thousands of borrowers are said to be looking for payment breaks, but some are said to be pushing for breaks that they do not really need

Yesterday, Nationwide launched a dedicated coronavirus support page in order to free up phone lines and reduce waiting lines for customers  including vulnerable people genuinely needing a payment break. www.nationwide.co.uk/support/coronavirus

One broker, Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients, said: “Lenders are throwing all their resources into dealing with payment holiday requests.

“But in the same way that people are stockpiling food they don’t need, there are selfish borrowers who are asking for payment holidays when they don’t need them.

“This is blocking the phone lines for those who do. Borrowers should ask themselves: can I pay the mortgage this month? If the answer is ‘yes’, then keep off the phone to your lender and let those who do need a payment holiday get through.”

He added: “Borrowers may be worried that there is a funding crisis. There isn’t – the banks are awash with liquidity.”

However, he said that not all banks are set up for staff to work from home, and that call centres are operating on skeleton resources.


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  1. MH -RM

    Heart-breaking …

  2. Flatnose1927

    It really is incredible. How can the finance sector even say such ridiculous things?

    Any society’s reaction to any crisis is influenced by confidence. At present we have many people expressing the wish to buy as it’s the sturdiest place to park money longer term. We’ve had bidding wars on several properties this week alone, confirming the truth of this. They believe in the economy and they are prepared to continue investing in it. This in turn provides revenue to the Treasury from a number of different industries.

    if the banks are allowed to crawl under a rock and do nothing the effect on the economy will be far worse than anything COVID-19 might have done. Confidence will be eradicated and the to-date stoic attitude of the general public to the crisis will go with it. Anyone fancy another 2008? No, didn’t think so. Lobby your professional bodies, MP, finance contacts. This cannot be allowed to happen.

    1. James Wilson

      The banking system has no responsibility to support over-valued house prices.   And the majority of people in the country would be delighted if they took a good tumble.

      1. SoggyBottom

        According to the gov ‘63% of households in England owned their own homes in the 2 years from 2016 to 2018’ – which majority of people are you referencing?

  3. Andrew Stanton Proptech Real Estate Strategist

    Knowing literally thousands in the industry, this is a very sad day, many had been using innovation to keep the lights on, now darkness will descend, many agents pipeline sales will not get to exchange and the rental sector more than any other will be faced with some extremely difficult situations. There are no easy solutions and for sure the epidemic must be halted.

    Hopefully, the collective voice of the industry and its needs will be heeded by the government who are already extremely stretched as they seek to look after the nation. If anyone wants and help or advice – you know where I am. All best and stay healthy.



  4. PeeBee


    Whoever has apparently been doling out the info that the housing market has been suspended apparently hasn’t told people wanting to sell…

    …or to buy, it seems.

    According to Zoopla – not the biggest portal but the one where info is easiest obtained – some 2486 properties have been listed as “Just added” in the last 24 hours – and an astounding 484 of those are now marked as “SSTC/Under Offer”!

    Now I’m sure that some of those 2486 – quite a few of them, in fairness – are genuine ‘new to market’ listings.  But I’m going to give you an example from ‘Page 1’ of the most recent which has just literally taken my breath away – and in my current condition I haven’t got a lot of breath to let go of (and before you all groan – it ISN’T a PurpleListing… although there are DOZENS I could have chosen from…):


    On the face of it doesn’t look too out of the ordinary.  But the fact that this “Just added” listing is shown as having had almost THIRTY FOUR THOUSAND page views set my #Portaljuggle hackles on edge.

    As can be seen on the Property History, it turns out that it’s actually a listing from March 2013 that has been #RElisted today:


    Now as to whether it has been on a ‘Marketing Break’… or whether a “sale” has fallen through I can’t say – but it is NOT a ‘new listing’.

    Listings abuse is a disease that our industry needs to be rid of.  The current portals have no incentive to do this – it is actually in their interests to #RElist til your heart’s content.  More numbers to chuck back at you when the price increase letters hit your doormats.


    1. SoggyBottom

      Surprised you didn’t get pinged by the hyperlink police there PeeBee

  5. JezzaLimpChurch

    Buyers will buy if they need to and sellers will also sell if they need to. Stay safe 🙂

    1. PeeBee

      I would suggest there are as many if not more buyers and sellers who buy because they want to than “have to”.

      During the current crisis it will be interesting to see if the balance shifts.  If it does, then the industry better pray for it to go back to normal pfq…

    2. SoggyBottom

      They may ‘need’ to but can’t finance. So they won’t be able to, even if they have a need.

  6. James Wilson

    Hundreds of thousands are now suspending mortgage payments.  They know that there is zero chance of them being repossessed  now.  Even just a letter from a mortgage provider threatening it would go viral and lead to a humilating mea cupla from the CEO.   So it is open season now, borrowers will stop paying mortgages.  I don’t see why anyone would pay at all for a while.  And heaven help those rapacious lenders if they try to levy additional interest.   They will be crushed in the court of public opionion (and rightly so).  The retards at the mortgage lenders who thought is was very clever lending 90-95% against clearly over-inflated assets are going to take a massive bath.   I think we will see a repeat of the Savings and Loans crisis in America in mid 1980s.   Then loads of over-extended lenders went bust.   They can now see this coming, and they can see the coming collapse in prices, and hence we are going to see a massive withdrawal of credit.   THEN let’s see how “estate agent valuations” hold up …

    1. PeeBee

      You post on the HPC Forum under a different name, I take it?

      Give rantnrave my best, won’t you.  He’s a miss on here.  Far more worthy ambassador for the cause than any others – before or since.

    2. GPL

      James Wilson? …….your use of the words “The retards”
      …….pretty much reduces whatever you say to fluff. I’m all in favour of robust/colourful language, however, that’s a phrase that I find demonstrative of someone with little understanding of language.
      Try harder next time ….to be less offensive.

  7. GPL

    Forgive me for having a laser view that this is a “Pause”. I get the reality however as each “Expert” gives their “Opinion”, as each Newspaper clamours for the next DRAMATIC HEADLINE ……. I can’t think that we are NOT actually dragging ourselves to an abyss above which we will pause for a nanosecond before throwing ourselves off???
    This is incredibly serious yet we seem unable to see beyond this? Is Social Media now The OTHER Virus? ……the one that spreads, multiplies, yet seems unable to deliver any level of BALANCE!
    FFS People ……get a grip. If we are all doomed then tell me where it is we have to go to throw ourselves off ……I can’t travel there yet, because I’m strictly observing STAY AT HOME, however, keep a place for me.
    I’m NOT blinded by the facts, I’m blinded by the lack of facts, the lack of what happens when we emerge into the “NEW Normal”. Great? Britain …..really? United? Kingdom …..really?
    ……this country went to War, notably WWI & WW2 …….from what I read historically, THAT was sacrifice, hardship, real hardship, loss, poverty, normal life obliterated…… yet, we had the resolve to come through it. Our Ancestors seem to be a much harder generation with much deeper resolve to dig in, move forward …..and emerge on the other side ……and they had very little of what we have today.
    Sorry, I apologise for looking on the dimly lit side of life ……it’s a Human Thing I have, I just thought we all had it to some degree.  
    It seems appropriate to list this post I made on another PIE Thread….
    GPL MARCH 27, 2020 AT 18:02#1
    Drastic action, immensely challenging times, a “New Normal” when we emerge …..however am I the only one to think the property market is in a state of “PAUSE”? I get that I’m looking on the dimly lit (formerly bright?) side however this isn’t the Dinosaurs being wiped out Moment.
    I absolutely get the reality of where we are at, however the headlines read like we should all be digging our own graves? It’s shocking, all over, whatever business you’re in ……and that’s without considering the human impact? ……..but is Our Industry and most others in the UK dead?
    Years ago I was swept out to sea (not metaphorically ……literally!) …….much, much younger than I am now, I started to panic and thought the worst…. then (absolutely true), I got a grip of my mind and thought it was up to me to save myself as there was no one else who could see me from the shore, the swell kept pushing me out, I got more & more tired …….then I thought, I’ll dive under the water and try that …….gradually I got nearer, until I put my feet down on the sand and I just felt so much relief….
    I don’t do inspirational talks, don’t do seminars etc …….but I don’t believe Our Industry is Dead?
    I’m sorry if that goes against the Headlines however I also don’t believe we’re all going to die of Covid19. Phoebe Gilchrist Lumsden, my 86 year old mother said this to me last week, about Covid19, “Well, we all die of something Graeme, I would prefer it not to be this, however we all go eventually”.
    I sincerely wish everyone well, and some respite over the weekend. If Our Industry is Dead ……send me a shovel ……until then, I’m a believer!

    1. PeeBee

      GPL – you need to be made EYEs CMO…
      …in my ‘umble opinion, you’re a chuffing BRILLIANT Chief Morale Officer!
      I’ve decided I’m going to Tweet the link to TEAI daily!

      1. GPL

        PeeBee ……you know that above all, I am a realist. I don’t drum up the Positive if I don’t believe it …..I really don’t.
        This Country, This Industry, This Feckin’ World just needs some BALANCE in its consumption of News ……if we keep hearing (true/or otherwise) Bad? News …..it just grinds us all into the earth. No need to worry about Vlad Putin, parking his Navy in our harbours ……we’ll have fought a war with ourselves (just in our Minds!) …..and lost!
        I wonder where James Dyson would be if everytime he faced a hurdle, he moaned about it, wept about, worried about it and convinced himself he was doomed to failure, so turned back and went the way he came. If he had we would still be taking about Hoover? ……Yes! WHOver!
        Happy Saturday PeeBee, we’re both still vertical and typing today. I am going to f@*k off to my garden and where the birds and the plants don’t give a ****.
        Love Life …..whatever form it takes!

        1. PeeBee

          Wise words, GPL.  As I have come to expect.
          Stay well.  Stay strong.  Stay sharp.
          Stay true.

  8. GPL

    The POWER of a HEADLINE……
    Boris Johnson, The Prime Minister went for a WEE
    Boris Johnson, The Prime Minister has the COLD
    Boris Johnson, The Prime Minister has COVID19
    …..and I’m going out to do some Gardening
    …..I’m going to conquer Everest
    ……I’m speaking to you live from The Moon (where I’m self-isolating, then I saw a car parked and a family of 4 having a picnic, so I am now heading to Mars!)
    Headlines ….or HEADLINES!      

  9. TipsyKoi1966

    Reality check please?

    1. GPL

      ……don’t look for one in the post TipsyKoi1966





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