THE PLANS of Islanders who were due to move house this spring have been thrown into turmoil, because of coronavirus.

The Island property market has been ‘paused’, after estate agent offices closed, on government advice for non-essential workers over COVID-19.  

Some house moves are still happening - to properties that are already empty, while removal companies have effectively left their vans in park. Surveyors are in a similar position.

The Isle of Wight County Press asked local estate agents and others working in the property market for advice.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Removal firm Cowes Movers told us that it expects business to boom as soon as restrictions are lifted and warned care would need to be taken, to continue to protect health and safety. For now, it has swapped house moves for helping out at St Mary’s hospital.

Colin Smith said: “The only jobs we’re doing are for the hospital - moving archives so rooms can be converted into wards. It’s kept us very busy.  We had about thirty moves booked - from small flats to mainland houses. 

“We have paid back deposits and it has had an impact. A lot of moves were put on hold over Brexit and things were getting busy this spring.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

East Cowes agent Coast to Castle said that virtual viewings have replaced appointments and the buying process has become ‘far longer’.

Co-owner Laura Priddle said: "The advice is to delay moving. Even if exchange of contracts has taken place, the advice is for all parties to work together to delay.

"Estate Agents are looking at alternative ways to show properties, using virtual viewings and video tours. 

"We are all working from home to support existing clients. Although we can accept offers on behalf of clients, everyone has to be prepared for long delays. The rental market currently offers little guarantee to landlords, as many of the rent insurances are now unable to offer new products."

Isle of Wight County Press:  

Trigg and Co said ‘paused’ does not necessarily mean the market is at a complete standstill, even though on-site viewings and new-to-market properties are on hold. 

Online searches are up and lockdown may even see a rise in people considering a switch to rural areas like the Isle of Wight, said the agent.

Where property sales have been agreed and are approaching exchange, solicitors are able to arrange a simultaneous exchange and completion if the property is empty. For other purchases, flexible completion arrangements are being agreed. 

Trigg & Co Managing Director Keith Trigg said: "Despite the lockdown, we have seen plenty of interest in the properties we are selling and are arranging viewings for when we re-open for business. We have invested heavily in technology over the past 6 years. Anyone wanting to speak to us can still reach us straight away by telephone and clients can arrange viewings or book a valuation on our website even though our office is currently closed."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Simon Wratten at Fox Property said some people had opted to move themselves, despite the hiatus: “Existing sales are continuing, albeit that some people have pressed the pause button. Solicitors, in the main, are continuing to progress with sales and in the case of empty properties, are still able to complete transactions. Removal firms aren’t able to work, so people are having to move themselves or are just leaving the properties empty and are waiting.”