As the UK moves out of lockdown, what lies in store for the property sector?
Simon Gerrard, Managing Director, Martyn Gerrard Estate Agents
With the UK roadmap allowing us to plan a return to normality and reunions with family and friends, 2021 is starting with much hope, and this certainly extends to the property sector.
January, February AND March have been very busy for us across both sales and lettings, which is a clear sign people are making proactive life decisions for the year ahead. So far this year we’ve had record numbers of completions and the only thing holding back transaction numbers was supply, but this has been transformed with the return of kids to school on the 8th March.
For many potential sellers the main factor preventing them starting the sales process was a busy house full of home-school set ups, and simply not having enough hours in the day to think about getting a house ready for viewings, amongst maths lessons and craft sessions.
So, with kids finally back in the classroom, in the space of only a week we saw a 30% increase in sellers booking in marketing appraisals.
All our branches have seen a significant uplift in enquiries from both sellers and buyers, and we expect to see completions and home moves continue to rise over the coming weeks. There is no better time to take advantage of all this activity and make the move you’ve been thinking about.
While many might have been bracing themselves ahead of the 2021 Budget, for the property market the Chancellor’s announcements also provided a positive sign that the Government are backing the sector and actively investing in its future.
The biggest indicator of this was the introduction of a mortgage guarantee scheme for properties up to a value of £600,000, as part of the Governments drive to “turn generation rent into generation buy”. Under the scheme they will provide a part guarantee, to reduce the risk on the loans, and multiple lenders are already lined up to start offering 95% mortgage plans for those who need it. While this has been widely reported as a leg up for first time buyers, it will also be vital in supporting second steppers and all those moving up the ladder.
The announcement that the Stamp Duty holiday for properties up to £500,000 will extend until the 30th June will ensure those in the process of finalising purchases can do so in the confidence they avoid it. The more gradual end to the scheme, with a holiday up to the value of £250,000 until the 30th September, will also support continued market momentum.
However, ultimately this Stamp Duty extension only kicks the problem down the road a little, and I have long been arguing that for long-term market prosperity the Government should switch responsibility for paying Stamp Duty from buyer to seller. This would help all those moving up the property ladder, including first time buyers and second steppers, without reducing Treasury coffers so sorely needed as we recover from the pandemic.
The other positive sign for the sector came from the Chancellors support for our High Streets, which are vital in supporting thriving local communities and house prices. The grants, loans and continued business rates holiday until June 31st will have prompted a huge sigh of relief for businesses and ensure as many as possible can successfully reopen.
With the roadmap and support from a government that recognises the property market as an integral part of our economic recovery, there could be no better time to put your property on the market and find that dream home.