The unexpected Covid effect that looks only set to continueWhen the announcement was made in March 2020 that we’d be heading into a national lockdown, everyone held their breath. What would it mean for the property industry? Overnight, the market came to a halt, mortgage products were withdrawn, sales were suspended and almost all of our staff were furloughed.
Yet now, well over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the market is booming. Unlike many other industries, the UK property market has proven its strength and resilience over the past few months. No one could have predicted the record breaking market we are currently experiencing, the likes of which we haven’t seen for some 15 years.
The housing market boom has been fuelled by Government incentives such as the Stamp Duty holiday (Welsh Land Transaction Tax), which has now been extended and the 95% LTV mortgage guarantee scheme.
Recent Rightmove figures have reported a buying frenzy for new stock, with both the average number of days to sell a property reaching its lowest ever level, and the number of houses selling within a week reaching its highest ever level. The property portal has also reported that the number of sales agreed up by 55% on same period two years ago.
What changed for pa black?
The most obvious change has been to our day to day work life, as we now ensure we consistently work to a Covid-Secure Gold Standard. This includes following strict physical distancing guidelines, a branch cleaning protocol, wearing PPE when entering properties including face masks and gloves and maintaining the highest possible hygiene practices to keep our staff and customers safe.
Further to this our staff continue to work behind locked-doors, a practise we no longer legally have to follow, due to non-essential shops now being allowed to open, but something we choose to do for the safety of our customers and staff alike.
We have invested in new products and services to allow us to be able to meet our customer’s needs. We now provide 360˚ virtual tours on our properties and we can carry our mortgage appointments remotely, which not only helps to keep everyone safe, but also saves customer’s valuable time.
Have buying trends changed?
There is currently a ‘race for space’ among buyers as people re-evaluate their needs, with home offices, spare bedrooms for remote working and bigger gardens now being high on the priority list.
Many employees are expecting to continue working remotely long term, meaning movement out of cities is likely to occur, to areas where you can get more for you money.
In fact a recent report from PwC has predicted that the population of London could drop in 2021 for the first time in more than 30 years, as the fallout from the pandemic prompts people to reconsider ‘big-city’ life. Many people are now rethinking their living situations in light of the pandemic, and re-evaluating the importance of larger homes, green spaces and connections with their local communities.
What does the future hold?
As lockdown restrictions ease and more homes come on to the market meaning greater choice and a rise in general public confidence, thanks to the easing of restrictions and the vaccine rollout, it looks set to drive a second surge in buyer appetite.
Although the market may slow down a little later in the year once some of the government schemes end, activity is expected to remain robust for the rest of 2021 and beyond.