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7 Ways COVID-19 has Affected Customers in the Housing Market

Author: Cameron Hagan – Clarendon Homes Kent

COVID-19 has caused a worldwide shock to the system, a tragic pandemic riddled with mystery and fear. I am sure your newsfeeds are cluttered with everything COVID-19, so I will keep this intro short and sweet. Still, COVID-19 is unfortunately omnipresent in today’s world, so to be aware of how it is affecting everyday life is of paramount importance to every decision, especially decisions on your future home!

This blog will take you through seven ways in which COVID-19 has affected the customer experience in the housing industry, to give you a better idea of what to expect in the market during these testing times.

1. Viewings

Viewing a property is a key stage in the buying process for people looking for new homes. To many prospective buyers, online viewings do not give you the same feel of a house that you would get in person, I mean how can you fully capture the essence of a house and its surroundings without experiencing it first hand? This certainly provides a challenge for several parties: estate agents, housing developers… but especially the customer. Being told by the government that you can’t visit your potential dream home for a viewing for your own safety or because of your current location is tough to say the least.

On the other hand, those who are fortunate enough to be in a position to be able to go to a viewing now have other pre-determined troubles which did not exist before COVID-19. Having to begrudgingly wear face masks, retaining safe social distancing, not even being able to exchange handshakes with the estate agent upon introduction, it all gives a much less personal feel when being shown around a home. It certainly dampens the experience of trying to start a new chapter in your life.

A Clarendon Homes new build house

Fortunately, technology is always advancing, so all players in the industry are eager to use technology to make viewings as authentic as possible. At Clarendon Homes, we are providing physical viewings with professional estate agents who will have your safety as the number one priority, as well as offering online virtual tours using smooth Matterport technology so you can see every aspect of your desired new home.

2. Trust

Trust is crucial to customers when buying from any business, but for a big purchase like a new house, knowing you can trust the supplier of this home is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

It can be hard to know whether what you see online is true and representative of the property. Being deceived online is a fear shared by every person in the modern age. Being able to trust that the details about the house you are viewing online, as well as the online forms and payments involved in the process, is all the real deal is sadly needing to be considered a possible risk rather than a certainty. This being said, property developers are doing all they can to stress a trustworthy service and final product. We at Clarendon Homes ensure that we bring prospective customers a 100% reliable, secure, and authentic digital experience to aid you in the buying process for new homes in Kent.

3. Finance

One aspect of buying a house relies on the dreaded f word… finance! The economy has been a confusing mess since March which, naturally, can be a worry for prospective buyers. Despite this, there are several factors which make now a great time to buy.

A golden piggy bank

For example:

  • The Bank of England base rate is at 0.1%, the lowest interest rate the UK has ever seen. This means that funding for lenders has become cheaper, meaning borrowers usually pay less in interest on their mortgage every month.
  • The Help to Buy scheme – A government scheme which can help first time home buyers get a property with just a 5% deposit. As long as the purchase price is less than £600,000, you can borrow up to 20% of the purchase price interest-free for the first five years if you have at least a 5% deposit. If you live in London, you can borrow up to 40% of the purchase price.
  • No stamp duty – Until 31st March 2021, you will pay no Stamp Duty tax on the purchase of your main property costing up to £500,000. Properties costing more than £500,000 will pay the Stamp Duty rate based on the value of the property over £500,000.

The majority of Clarendon Homes’ properties are available through the Help to Buy scheme, and we will always let you know if there is anything on the financial side of proceedings which you need to know when looking for new homes in Kent.

4. Communication

With more and more of our daily lives migrating to the online world due to COVID-19, there is subsequently less face-to-face communication. We rely on technology, which is not ideal for everyone, especially those who are unable to afford the latest tech or those who are less familiar with how to use it. Furthermore, doing everything online can feel like a less personal experience for the customer, which can ruin the magic of moving.

A man indoors on his phone looking out of a window

Clarendon Homes staff are trained in satisfying customer needs through all communication mediums. Whether it be via email, telephone, social media or in person, we are always here to help our customers move into perfect new homes.

5. Safety

Juggling safety with practicalities such as viewings and face-to-face communication is a problem which none of us should have to face. COVID-19 has added this different dimension to the customer experience – safety was always taken for granted before March, but not anymore. Customers and employees must wear face masks in certain settings, maintain an appropriate social distance, sanitise surfaces etc to ensure a safe experience for all parties involved.

Every worker involved with Clarendon Homes adheres to government guidelines, and we strive to do that little bit extra to ensure the safety of our clients and employees alike. In addition to this, you are more than entitled to take extra precautions to maximise your safety, such as keeping the whole buying process online or sending a trusted friend/family member to view the home on your behalf.

6. Evolving Buyer Priorities

COVID-19 has provided a reality check (albeit a harsh one) to the potential of digital as a means of living. Purchasing online has never been more accessible; Amazon, supermarkets, Asos… the list goes on. This has altered buyer priorities when looking for places to live, because previously important factors such as closeness to supermarkets and clothing stores are becoming less necessary for people. Moreover, remote working is becoming increasingly popular, so distance to work is also becoming a less relevant factor for some people.

A woman on her laptop looking for new homes

Every person is unique, so different factors will rank higher in importance than others depending on your opinion and needs. At Clarendon Homes, we make sure to listen to our customers’ needs when you are buying new homes in Kent and provide for them as best as we can.

7. Promise for the future…

I would like to leave you in a positive mind frame, because things are not all as doom and gloom as they seem, despite the awful situation the world finds itself in. Social distancing has forced businesses and customers alike to adapt to a new digitally dominated world. A world which – let’s face it – isn’t about to go away. So, the fact that business leaders, employees and customers across the world are learning and adopting a plethora of new, sustainable online skills and techniques is very promising for the future.

Just one example of how this could affect customers in the housing industry is the rise in augmented reality, which no doubt will play a huge role in virtual house viewings in the future.

Exciting advancements are not just exclusive to the housing industry, but for society and the economy as a whole, leaving plenty of reason for optimism for the future.

A happy woman on her laptop shopping online

Got any questions or feedback on the blog? Or maybe a topic you would like to be covered in a future blog?

Email cameron.hagan@clarendonhomes.co.uk today, I would love to hear from you!

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