A leading professional body has called for clarity over the house buying and selling process in Scotland.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is asking the Scottish Government for answers on when such business can restart along with property inspections and valuations.

Lockdown measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have impacted the market, according to the RICS UK Residential Market Survey for April 2020.

The latest figures suggest 80% of contributors have seen buyers and sellers pulling out of transactions on the housing market.

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Hew Edgar, head of UK Government relations at RICS, said: "RICS last month called on the UK Government to explore confidence-boosting measures for the residential market when it is safe to resume.

"Given that 62% of UK members believed that a stamp duty holiday would boost sales and keep prices unchanged, we urge the Scottish Government to make the same assessment of the LBTT (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax) regime.

"The Scottish Government now has the opportunity to pave the way for a resilient post-Covid recovery, and should look at other palatable options that would kick start market fluidity such as reducing or removing LBTT for downsizers, or support scaling up retrofitting of existing homes as both an economic stimulus and a spur to a healthier and greener housing stock for Scotland.

"That said, what the housing market needs first and foremost is clarity, and an unambiguous signal from the Scottish Government of when the house buying and selling process, including inspections and valuations within clear parameters of public health, can restart."

House prices are also anticipated to be lower when the market reopens, with recovery estimated to take around 11 months.

More than a third of respondents (35%) to the survey believe when the market reopens across the UK, prices could be up to 4% lower, however more than 40% think prices could in fact fall by more than 4%.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: "We are acutely aware of the massive impact this pandemic is having on businesses, including the housing market, and we don't want restrictions to be in place any longer than we judge is necessary.

"But our top priority is saving lives and the restrictions must stay in place so we continue to suppress the virus.

"That means staying at home, apart from essential purposes.

"We continue to be in discussions with businesses about how we all move forward as we slowly and carefully emerge from this crisis."

Retailer WH Smith has warned over a "significant hit" since March as the coronavirus lockdown forced it to close travel outlets in railway stations and airports and many of its high street stores.

The group said total revenues plunged 85% in April, with sales crashing 91% across its travel arm - which makes up more than half of its annual turnover - and 74% in its high street chain.

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WH Smith said it had temporarily closed the vast majority of its 1,194-strong stores in the travel business, though it kept around 130 open in UK hospitals to help serve frontline NHS staff and has extended its grocery ranges in these outlets amid the crisis.

The travel arm has been a major engine for growth of the business in recent years, helping offset tough UK high street conditions.

As well as a presence across Britain's travel network, WH Smith also operates in over 100 international airports and 31 countries.

Carl Cowling, group chief executive of WH Smith, said: "Since March, we have seen a significant impact on our business as a result of Covid-19, with the majority of our stores closed around the world."

He added: "We are a resilient and versatile business and with the operational actions we have taken including managing costs and the new financing arrangements, we are in a strong position to navigate this time of uncertainty and are well positioned to benefit in due course from the normalisation and growth of our key markets."

WH Smith kept 203 of its high street stores with Post Offices open amid the lockdown, but temporarily shut the bulk of the 575-strong chain.

While store sales were decimated, WH Smith noted a jump in online sales, with book sales surging 400% as Britons looked for ways to pass the time at home.

It said it was working on plans for a phased reopening of stores over its second half, focusing on driving spend per passenger across its travel chain as outlets begin trading again.

The group has furloughed a "significant" number of its staff across stores and head offices, while also axing its interim shareholder dividend payout amid cost-cutting efforts.

The impact of coronavirus on the group came after a robust first-half performance, which saw WH Smith post a 3% fall in pre-tax profits to £63 million - up 1% at £93 million on an underlying basis.

Travel stores enjoyed an 11% jump in profits at £49 million over the six months to February 29, offsetting an 8% fall for the high street business, at £44 million.

"There was very little impact of Covid-19 on our first-half results, however inevitably the performance in the second half will be very different," said Mr Cowling.

The coronavirus crisis will cost insurance market Lloyd's more than the September 11 terror attacks in the US as it expects to pay out up to $4.3 billion, (£3.5 billion) to customers.

Losses could also widen further if lockdowns continue into the next quarter, making it more expensive than the terrorist attacks and all the devastating hurricanes in 2017 combined.

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"Lloyd's believes that once the scale and complexity of the social and economic impact of Covid-19 is fully understood, the overall cost to the global insurance non-life industry is likely to be far in excess of those historical events," the London-based insurance market said.

Lloyd's chief executive John Neal said: "The global insurance industry is paying out on a very wide range of policies to support businesses and people affected by Covid-19. The Lloyd's market alone is currently expected to pay claims amounting to some $4.3bn, making it one of the market's largest payouts ever.

"What makes Covid-19 unique is not just the devastating continuing human and social impact, but also the economic shock.

"Taking all those factors together will challenge the industry as never before, but we will keep focused on supporting our customers and continuing to pay claims over the weeks and months ahead."