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Can you move home in lockdown? How the property market will stay open

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The property market remains open despite England being plunged back into a March-style lockdown.

But unlike in the first lockdown, this means that people can continue to move home, and do everything needed to complete that process. This includes viewing homes for sale in person, right through to allowing removal firms into homes.

But the news comes with a plea from housing experts to follow safety guidelines and only attempt to move if it is essential, due to the sharp rise in Covid cases.

The property market remains open as the country is plunged back into a March-style lockdown

The property market remains open as the country is plunged back into a March-style lockdown

Tomer Aboody, of property lender MT Finance, said: ‘Unlike the first lockdown, estate agents remain open for business – and both sellers and buyers are still keen to proceed with their transactions. 

‘With lawyers, valuers and agents all still working, this should limit any further delays to transactions. 

‘It is now down to the comfort level of sellers in terms of allowing potential buyers in to view their homes, and buyers feeling comfortable attending viewings. Extra caution will be taken on all sides to allow viewings to proceed.’

What is the safety advice for buyers and sellers? 

Mark Hayward, of the estate agents’ body Propertymark, said: ‘We welcome the news that the housing market is to remain open throughout this new lockdown period.

‘But it is essential that all agents continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following all relevant guidance on how to safely conduct viewings.

‘It is vital to keep movers and buyers safe and keep the housing market moving through these uncertain times.’

Virtual viewings are taking place on many properties for sale and buyers are being urged to look at those first before committing to a physical viewing. 

The safety advice from the Government about moving home includes those viewing a property for sale having to wash and sanitise their hands and avoid touching surfaces, with viewings only able to involve members of a single household.

Without these safety measures in place, viewings are not meant to take place, with most agents adhering to the new guidelines.

Propertymark has gone a step further, advising everyone at a viewing to wear gloves and face coverings.

It has previously warned that if its members failed to adhere to its guidelines, the Government may decide to lockdown the housing market once again.

What are the restrictions on the property market?

The housing market has had to deal with some big pressures during the global pandemic.

With tenants facing the challenges of unemployment and not being able to pay their rent, they risked losing their homes.

It led the Government to place a ban on tenant evictions at the beginning of the lockdown, which was extended until September last year. However, court proceedings can now take place.

It prompted fears that landlords would be unable to meet their mortgage payments. Along with homeowners, they were given payment holidays.

Both tenants and property owners are still required to repay their debts.

Virtual viewings are taking place and people are being urged to look at those first before committing to a physical viewing

Virtual viewings are taking place and people are being urged to look at those first before committing to a physical viewing

As the number of Covid cases increases, people are being urged to move only if necessary. 

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said : ‘This latest national lockdown is disappointing but understandable and hopefully we will make up for short-term pain with medium and longer-term gain. Enforced confinement is likely to mean the release of pent-up demand when it is over.

‘There are many people who have made legal commitments to buy, sell or rent, and need or have to move. This could be for health or financial reasons, a relationship breakdown or domestic violence – whatever the reason, these moves can’t be halted even in light of the pandemic.

‘We will be returning to the protocols that we previously adopted and there will be a clear distinction between occupied and unoccupied properties. 

‘The new lockdown will affect surveyors, removals firms etc and in the circumstance, it would be prudent for the Chancellor to reconsider the stamp duty deadline. Those who have moved heaven and earth to meet the deadline should not now be penalised if they miss it through no fault of their own.’

Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

Despite the coronavirus crisis, the property market has remained resilient after its initial lockdown freeze, with some support from the Chancellor.

Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty holiday that applies to the first £500,000 of a home’s purchase price. The holiday is scheduled to stop at the end of March, but there are calls for an extension.

Mr Hayward is urging the Government to extend the stamp duty holiday.

He said: ‘The prioritisation of the Government of a functioning property market and subsequent implementation of the stamp duty holiday as well as measures taken to keep the rent flowing within the private sector have allowed for record-breaking levels of house sales and rental accommodation.’

All regions saw prices rise in 2020, with the East Midlands seeing the biggest jump of 8.6%

All regions saw prices rise in 2020, with the East Midlands seeing the biggest jump of 8.6%

What is happening in the property market? 

Propertymark’s data revealed the highest number of tenants on record searched for homes in August.

Meanwhile, house prices saw their biggest annual increase in six years in December as the property market continued to boom despite the usual slowdown in the run-up to Christmas and new Covid restrictions.

The average price of a home in Britain rose 7.3 per cent, or more than £15,000, in the past year to £230,920, according to Nationwide Building Society. It said prices rose 0.8 per cent, or almost £1,200, in the last month alone.

Nationwide calculated that property values are also more than £11,000, or 5.3 per cent, higher than they were in March, before the first lockdown.

The property market in all four nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – remain open.

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Zappone turns down invitation to appear before committee to discuss envoy role

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Former minister Katherine Zappone has turned down an invitation to appear before an Oireachtas committee to explain the circumstances surrounding her now-scrapped appointment as a special envoy.

The chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan confirmed on Monday that Ms Zappone had declined an invitation to attend to discuss the matter.

The committee, which met last Wednesday in private session, agreed to write to the former minister and invite her to appear before it.

It is understood the decision was taken at a private meeting after it was proposed by Sinn Féin spokesman on foreign affairs John Brady and his Social Democrats counterpart Gary Gannon.

The committee is also to invite Martin Fraser, the secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach and the State’s highest-ranking civil servant, to address the issue of precisely when Ms Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Controversy erupted over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights.

Mr Coveney – who is attending UN meetings this week in New York – last week faced down a motion of no confidence as a result of his handling of the matter.

Earlier this month, Mr Coveney told the Oireachtas Committee Ms Zappone was mistaken in her belief she had been offered the job last March.

Mr Coveney also rejected claims that Ms Zappone lobbied for the position or that he breached Freedom of Information legislation by deleting texts between himself and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

However, Mr Coveney apologised for “sloppiness”, and for making mistakes in the past few weeks.

Records released by the Department of Foreign Affairs show Ms Zappone texted Mr Coveney to thank him on March 4th “so, so much for offering me this incredible opportunity”.

In mid-July she sent another message of thanks but Mr Coveney has insisted nothing had been formally agreed until it came to Cabinet on July 27th.

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Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband drop $13M on Palm Desert vacation home

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Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.  

Loughlin, who was released from prison in December, with her husband following in April, appear to be celebrating their newfound freedom with the purchase of their vacation getaway in the La Quinta community.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home, situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club, comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater.  

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets 

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings 

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films 

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater 

Former 'Full House' actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Former ‘Full House’ actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million. 

A few of their neighbors include Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Nike’s Phil Knight, Cindy Crawford and Scooter Braun. 

The purchase comes a year after Loughlin and Giannulli bought a $9.5 million modern farmhouse in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles.      

A federal judge in Boston recently granted Loughlin ‘expedited’ permission to travel to Canada to possibly rekindle her career. The request was necessary as she remains on probation.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar 

Loughlin was unable to travel due to her prison sentence and ensuing community service commitments stemming from her involvement in the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ scheme, which involved wealthy parents paying large sums of money to get their kids into elite universities.    

‘Ms. Loughlin anticipates she will be traveling for about one week’ and is ‘being offered a filming production project’ if granted permission, her initial request sent by a probation official stated.   

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California.

Lori and her fashion designer husband paid $500,000 to falsely pass the girls off as potential college rowers on USC’s rowing team.

Although they initially claimed to be innocent, Mossimo pled guilty last May to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services and mail fraud, while Lori pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.  

Giannulli was sentenced to five months, while Loughlin served two months behind bars.

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella's way into University Of Southern California

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California

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Tenor fails to rent home as work in Covid-hit sector deemed precarious

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An Irish tenor, who has performed for presidents and emperors and been shortlisted for a Grammy award, is struggling to rent a home in Dublin because of a perception that working in the Covid-19-hit entertainment industry makes him a risk.

Paul Byrom said he was “knocked for six” last week after a potential landlord refused to even meet him on the grounds that the pandemic had made his profession singularly unsuitable for the rental market.

Byrom has earned his living as a musician for more than 20 years and has performed for Emperor Akihito of Japan, former Irish presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson and former US president Barack Obama.

He was one of the original soloists in the Celtic Thunder show that toured the world and had number one albums on the World Billboard Chart. A solo album, This is the Moment, debuted at number one on the same chart and was shortlisted for a Grammy nomination.

Byrom has continued to work online during the pandemic and is looking forward to restarting his live career soon. “I am no Bono, but I am not starting out in the game,” he said.

However, none of his achievements appear to have been good enough for one Dublin landlord. Byrom said he and his girlfriend were keen to move to a bigger home and found a two-bedroom house in south county Dublin advertised at a rent of €2,000 a month.

‘Exemplary tenant’

It was being let by the estate agent which manages the property the couple currently live in and he was assured that, as an “exemplary tenant” for more than three years, his application would most likely be considered favourably.

“The estate agents said that while it was looking after the letting, it wouldn’t be the management company and the guy who owned it would be the point of contact,” Byrom said. “I was told that the landlord would want to meet me and I had no problem with any of that – I thought that made sense.”

He and his girlfriend assembled all the paperwork including her payslips and details of his earnings from his accountant. “I had moved in in my head but then I got a phone call saying the application had been rejected,” he said.

His mother joked that he had been turned down “because the landlord didn’t want you practising your Ave Maria’s at 10 in the morning.”

But that was not the reason. It emerged that the “landlord thought that because Covid had hit my industry hard he would be too nervous to take me on. He simply didn’t want anyone from the entertainment industry,” Byrom said.

Mortgage

He said struggling to rent or get a mortgage were not the only issues entertainers encounter.

“Try and look for car insurance as a singer and the companies don’t want to know. So I can’t drive a car or rent a home or even take advantage of the bike to work tax scheme because I am self employed.

“And this is a country that claims to be the land of the bards and the poets. The amount of roadblocks put in an entertainer’s way are just crazy, but then they will say get out there and sing Danny Boy and represent the country. You’d have to wonder if Ireland wants artists to be here at all.”


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