CNN reporter: 'Unimaginable' scenes in central London

New York (CNN Business)Coronavirus has disrupted most areas of life — and home buying and selling are no exception.

In the United Kingdom, mortgage providers have announced they will give home buyers who have already signed contracts the option to extend their mortgage offers for up to three months. The measure will allow customers to push their moves back to a later date, according to a Thursday statement from UK Finance, the trade organization for the country’s banking and finance sector.
The policy will help people whose moving plans have been disrupted by a loss of work as well as self-isolation policies and social distancing recommendations.

    It could also alleviate pressure on banks. The capacity of lenders is being stretched at a time when they are facing internal operational headaches, splitting workforces between headquarters in central London, backup sites miles outside the city and home offices.
    “It is clearly not appropriate for people shielding or self-isolating to move home,” Chief Executive of UK Finance Stephen Jones said in a statement. “Therefore where chains contain people in these groups, lenders, conveyancers and other professionals are working together to enable these customers’ moves to be delayed.”

    The extension also takes into account that some new mortgage customers could see a dramatic change in income over the next several months as authorities struggle to get a handle on the pandemic. Anticipating the massive hit to the UK economy and workforce, the government earlier this week unveiled an unprecedented intervention in the British economy, saying it will cover 80% of worker salaries for at least the next three months up to a maximum of £2,500 ($2,900) a month, which is more than the average income.

      “People who would have been preparing and expecting to move house in the coming weeks now face a wait until Covid-19 restrictions can be lifted… Our heads are clear that it would be unfair for these people to have to start their mortgage application all over again once life returns to a more normal state,” Robin Fieth, chief executive of the Building Societies Association, said in a statement.
      Lloyds Banking Group said Thursday it is adjusting some product offerings to manage the situation. It has temporarily withdrawn new mortgage and remortgage products with loan to value ratios of over 60% available via its intermediary brands. Customers can still apply for a mortgage directly online with Halifax and Lloyds Bank.
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