By injecting some optimism into proceedings, agents can look to maintain the high level of activity and transactions that has characterised the second half of 2020.
Below are some thoughts on how agents can enthuse consumers and circumvent a prolonged Christmas hangover…
A larger than ever festive buzz?
For many people, firing up the property portals over the festive period has become a tradition almost as sacred as sipping on mulled wine or lighting up the Christmas pudding. The most up-to-date festive figures show some 25 million page views on Rightmove on Boxing Day 2018 and Zoopla's traffic peaking at 9pm the same day.
When we consider that the boom which followed the spring lockdown saw Rightmove achieve record traffic figures on several occasions, it looks like we could be in line for a record-breaking Christmas.
With people restricted to small gatherings this year and even more time spent at home, the temptation to start looking for a property may be felt more keenly up and down the country.
For agents, this means a glut of new applicants for your active properties. It also provides you with a solid reason to encourage people to list before the festive break.
Sellers who have been on the market since the autumn, or those who take your advice and list this month, could benefit from a significant level of interest in their property over Christmas and New Year - activity which can translate into viewings and offers throughout January.
Over recent years, the January market has been consistently strong as a result of the festive boost and there's no reason why 2021 can’t be even better than usual.
2021 – a brighter future awaits…
This year has been a hard slog for most businesses and while the pandemic has taken its toll on many agencies, some of its consequences - such as a stamp duty holiday and huge release of pent-up demand - have left firms dealing with more transactions than they would have projected.
Agents have shown consumers that no matter the restrictions (apart from the strict lockdown in the spring), they can help people to move home in a safe and efficient manner.
The way the industry has operated under the pressure of adapting to a new normal, while dealing with uncertainty and the pressure of a sharp uplift in transactions, has been admirable.
If sellers consider the great work their agent has been doing under difficult circumstances, they can expect even bigger and better things once the pandemic has subsided.
The UK has approved a Covid-19 vaccine from this week, with the first 10 million doses expected to be available very soon. This positive news is likely to spread to the housing market with a big boost on sentiment.
As restrictions hopefully start to ease throughout next year, the outlook for consumer confidence should be optimistic and this should provide sellers (and agents) with a boost going into 2021.
Getting the job done before the stamp duty deadline
One of the biggest questions facing the industry is whether transactions will be able to complete in time for the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March.
There are concerns that a cliff-edge situation could see sales fall-through if buyers pull out after realising they won't benefit from the tax cut as their transaction won't complete in time.
The main hope for many stakeholders is that the government agrees to extend the stamp duty holiday beyond March to sustain activity and ensure that all those buying and selling now and over the coming weeks benefit from the savings.
The government has stayed tight-lipped on its intentions thus far, but with such strong and reasoned calls for an extension from the property industry, there is always a chance they won't fall on deaf ears.
In the meantime, however, agents must work with buyers and sellers to do everything in their power to give transactions the best chance of going through. This includes effective communication and preparing information upfront.
Thankfully, some of the technology available to the market is helping to speed up transactions, while there are also a range of alternative selling options for agents these days.
Online auctions are the predominant force helping agents to sell vendors' properties in a quick and uncomplicated matter. Auctions have become more popular than ever this year and there are many firms, such as GoTo Online Auctions, offering agents partnerships to sell properties in a different way.
While not all properties will be suitable for an auction sale, agents can provide those vendors who are have a compelling reason to sell and move before the stamp duty holiday with a viable option to achieve their objective. Of course, it’s important for consumers to understand the pros and cons of selling via online auctions before taking the plunge.
It may not always feel like it, but the property market has plenty to cheer as Christmas and New Year approaches. Passing this positivity on to clients over the coming weeks can help to ensure you don’t encounter a dry January.
Want free searches? Good news, estate agents that use GoTo Group for auctions will get searches (on all their non-auction conveyancing cases) at no cost! Just quote Move iQ when you make an enquiry.
*Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans. Coming soon: Move iQ Pro, Phil’s resource to support the property community. Stay tuned ready for launch!