Well, what a start to 2021! None of us thought things would change as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day. However, I think it came as a surprise to some that we were plunged into the third nationwide lockdown in just nine months at the start of January, just as everyone was getting back into the swing of things post-Christmas.
After a positive start to 2020, the pandemic dominated the rest of the year, and looks set to dominate at least the first quarter of this year, too.
Although the property market hasn’t been as badly affected as some industries, we are now feeling the pressure as the stamp duty holiday deadline quickly approaches.
According to Rightmove, it takes on average 126 days from the time an offer is accepted until legal completion, which is just over four months.
This means that it’s likely that only sales agreed before the New Year will benefit from the holiday, and buyers currently in the sales process are becoming more aware as the deadline approaches.
However, at the time of writing this there’s been no news as to whether the holiday will be extended, despite many agents and buyers lobbying for the extension as the third lockdown has delayed progressing sales already agreed.
The worry over the next couple of months is that chains could begin to collapse as buyers attempt to renegotiate deals, fearing that they won’t benefit from the stamp duty holiday, which could save some buyers up to £15,000.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we’re into the third lockdown it was easy enough for us to drop back into the practices that we had in place during the first and second lockdowns.
Remote working and personal protective equipment have become the normal to making things work in 2021. Virtual viewings and valuations are more popular than ever and are proving to be a huge success – they are something that is surely here to stay even in a post-pandemic world.
Despite the pandemic, house prices continued to grow in 2020, as the latest data from the ONS showed that prices increased by 5.4% to an average of £245,443, which is the highest level in four years.
On the lettings side, tenant demand was more or less steady towards the end of the year, annual private rents did increase by 1.4% last year.
The South West, where a large number of our branches are located, actually saw the biggest annual increase of 2.3%.
But what does the property market look like for 2021, and importantly the post-pandemic world?
Well, house price growth doesn’t look set to change anytime soon, as early figures from this year show the trend continuing, with Rightmove also forecasting 4% price growth this year.
Staying at home has never been more important, so it’s no surprise to see that people are willing to pay for a home which is right for them and their needs. We’re expecting another busy year for the lettings market as tenants look to move and landlords continue to invest in up and coming areas.
*Ellie Donaghy is head of lettings at Andrews Property Group