The past year has been, to put it mildly, a challenging one. Non-essential businesses have closed, the word “furlough” has entered common parlance and “working from home” has largely replaced the commute.
Estate agency has been no different.
Saxon Kings have had to adopt Covid compliant practices with virtual appointments and viewings, replacing much of the day-to-day, face-to-face work. We’ve adapted but, like so many queueing outside shops this week, we’re delighted that some semblance of normality is hopefully returning.
What we’ve found too is that the property market, which many predicted would go into a slumber, has actually been frenzied in the past year.
We will look at the reasons in more depth in future blog posts but we thought we’d summarise just three salient points here.
Firstly, the Stamp Duty holiday.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced Bounce Back Loans, the furlough scheme and a dining out scheme, he didn’t overlook the property market. The SDLT holiday was a massive incentive for people to move and the strategy accelerated property selling and buying. Home buyers could see the savings to be made and, rightly or wrongly, opted to change homes.
We witnessed this first hand in Surbiton, Worcester Park, Kingston and Kingston upon Thames.
Because the demand was so high, Rishi Sunak then extended the scheme until 30th September 2021.
On a £650,000 purchase, for example, stamp duty would be levied at £7500 should you complete before October and this leaps to £22,500 (a £15,000 difference) if you miss the end of September.
Secondly, people are working from home
We’ve all seen in Zoom and Google Meet calls with colleagues (and by watching viral clips of others) that people are working from home in varied spaces. Some are perched on a dining table in a kitchen, vying for space with children and cornflakes; some work from laptops on sofas; others have converted a bedroom.
What the pandemic has meant is that space is in demand.
Four and five bedroomed properties have been searched for more online than ever before. It’s not that people are having more children – it’s because people need dedicated office space, as the trend may become long term.
People have sold and moved for more space.
Thirdly, mortgage criteria has changed
Because demand has accelerated, the Chancellor has introduced 95% mortgages. The Help to Buy scheme on new builds has proven to be an attractive proposition for home buyers, but the need for a 25% deposit for pre-owned homes has left many people in a rent trap. Now we’re not saying that in our corner of southern England that first time buyers will be suddenly queuing up with 5% deposits but in other areas of the UK, where property prices are more modest, this has happened.
When first time buyers become active, it has a positive domino effect on the housing market – something we’re now seeing at Saxon Kings.
If you’re looking to buy, let or sell, we would recommend that you talk to us. We are an independent, family-owned estate agency whose services are bespoke. We are “not your typical estate agent”.
Contact us today.