As lockdown grinds on for another month, I imagine I’m not the only one who has taken up a new hobby. For me it’s been rudimentary clairvoyancy, specialising in the UK property market. I went and bought a crystal ball and everything.
“Download some actual figures!” they yelled, “Buy A Database!” they implored, but I said no! Crystal Balls from Mad Grog McDougalls Amazon Shop were on special offer and promised to provide just as much insight. So here you have it, like it or not.
By some miracle, the UK property market seemed to sail through the chaos of 2020 in a fashion I can only compare to Forrest Gumps’ shrimp boat in that film….Forrest Gump…. The determination of people to move away from neighbours they didn’t like clearly outweighed the worry of being killed by a deadly virus!
What has been surprising too is how quickly an industry that has been historically reluctant to engage with new technology, has taken it on board and learned to offer customers something new…whether that’s virtual viewings or carrying out valuations remotely.
The market has undoubtedly been buoyed somewhat by the stamp duty holiday, which at the time of writing still looks like it will come to an end in March 2021. Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, it would seem sensible to extend this at least into the Autumn.
But, regardless of that, it looks like we will continue to see strong market activity into 2021 through a combination of people re-evaluating what they want from a home in a new, post-covid, work culture and people having to move because of employment changes. Strong market activity should not be confused with house price growth though, and it looks likely that we’ll see big regional differences.
Those in locations such as London may well be looking at property in cheaper, less populous areas and concluding that living in a 3 bed semi near a tube station whilst working from home makes no sense when they could get a palace further north for the same money. That is certainly the case with interest we have seen on such property on our books. This will no doubt put upward pressure on the price of homes near towns and villages with good rail links to London, such as Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and around Peterborough.
The story for owners in more “normal” properties such as terraced houses, flats and semi’s located in less desirable areas, could be very different. They may see a downturn in fortunes given that many of the owners will be in jobs that are likely to be impacted severely by a post-covid economic downturn. A surge in this type of property coming onto the market would see downward pressure on prices.
Regardless of what sells, conveyancing is still taking longer than usual with 16 weeks becoming the norm rather than the exception. A busy market will continue to add pressure to the conveyancing process and all parties of a sale are advised to be realistic with their timescales.