The property market is used to change, and I’m confident it will bounce back from any lockdown effects.
Despite being acutely aware of everything that has been happening in the last four months, it’s actually been a while since I sat down and reflected on all the changes that our industry and businesses across the country have faced.
Within just a few weeks, teams have gone from adapting to working from home to the ‘new normal’, which is now being back in the office. It’s a real testament to the people that they, and the business, have managed to adapt so well, which is why I’m confident that the property market will also adapt and overcome these challenges too.
At Andrews, we’re following government guidelines by promoting virtual valuations and viewings as a priority. If clients would then like to follow these up with a physical face-to-face appointment, we are offering these, armed with PPE and of course observing social distancing.
Again, our teams have adapted so quickly and well to these changes and are doing everything they can to make sure that they’re still providing the same level of personal service.
Since the property market was given the ‘all clear’ to re-open, it has been interesting to see the difference in people’s attitudes with regards to moving. Within our first hour of ‘opening’ on May 13, we received over 200 calls, and numerous voicemails, requesting viewings and valuations. This was a slight surprise, although a pleasant one, as we weren’t completely sure how people would react.
The last few weeks have seen similar levels of interest as the release of pent-up demand has continued, despite initial concerns about whether the market would bounce back. We’ve actually seen strong numbers of serious buyers and sellers continue and start new business, with Rightmove having reported that there’s been 40,000 new sales agreed since May 13.
Recent research, undertaken by Dataloft Inform, showed that 95% of all sellers who had been planning to sell their home before lockdown still planned on marketing their house for sale - which is a trend that has also been reflected across our branches. Properties are also selling and letting in a reasonable time as those looking to buy or rent don’t want to wait any longer and risk missing out on a property, or any future issues.
Some people thought that house prices could decrease and buyers would demand lower prices, but buyers haven’t been taking any chances of missing out on their next home. Unique price analysis from Rightmove showed that new sales agreed were at 97.7% of the asking price, on average, which is actually an improvement from sales completed in February this year when it was at 96.6%.
The lettings market has also seen similar results with many lettings valuations and viewings taking place. There has also been a large bounce back following the release of pent-up tenant demand, and the first fortnight in June saw new and completed applications surge above 2019 levels.
One thing that has changed, and I am confident will continue to change in the coming months, is what people require from their home. We’ve already seen initial insights from Rightmove suggesting home-hunters are prioritising bigger gardens, and evolving working from home trends are also likely to influence priorities when it comes to office rooms and property locations.
It’s unlikely that we’ll know the real effect of the lockdown on people’s property needs as well as the property market itself for a while yet.
We’re predicting that the property market will be at its busiest in August and September this year as the backlog of moves complete along with those that were planning to move pre-lockdown, and those that decided during lockdown start their moves in the next few months.
The property market has seen a lot of uncertain over the past few years, from General Elections to the EU referendum and now the coronavirus pandemic.
Although we’re not back to normal yet, and won’t be for a while, I’m confident that the property market will hold strong and adapt to this situation just as it has in the last few years.
People will always need new homes and we’ll always be here to support them through their moves.
*Ellie Donaghy is Head of Lettings at Andrews Property Group