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Buyers push for discounts in distressed property markets

Harry Tang and his partner had outgrown the one-bedroom flat they rented in north-west London long before lockdown began. In February, two months after their first child was born, the couple found the perfect upgrade: a two-bedroom apartment in a new-build development in Park Royal, west London, for £500,000. When the developer offered them a £30,000 discount, they agreed to buy it.

The purchase has been on hold since April, however, and Tang, a solicitor, who did not want to give his real name, now wonders whether he should be asking for an even bigger reduction. “I’ve read that prices could fall by 13 per cent this year,” he says, referring to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. “I am re-evaluating”.

Since May 13, when the government reopened the property market in England, many of the 373,000 property transactions estimated to have been put on hold by the crisis were allowed to resume. However, like Tang, lots of potential buyers will be nervous about picking up where they left off.

Given that the outbreak is expected to cause the worst economic recession in living memory, says Jonathan Hopper, CEO of Garrington Property Finders, “you cannot pretend the housing market is detached from it.”


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