Remember the early days of lockdown when there was a general panic?
Perhaps the hot demand for toilet rolls was a sign of things to come in the property market, too. By the summer our stock was flying out and as fast as we took on houses most were finding eager buyers. It didn’t actually need the stamp duty holiday to stimulate the market; it caused more of a problem because the Exchequer lost a fortune in tax revenues while home sellers raked in extra cash as buyers outbid each other to secure whatever they could.
It wasn’t exactly as frantic as the scrums in the supermarket aisles, or at least not on the surface. But underneath, the buyers were frantically trying to keep up with the flow and outdo each other, a bit like the apparently serene swan that has feet wildly trying to defeat the current underneath.
As experts in home delivery, so to speak, we as an industry soon had the stock into the hands of buyers but now it’s our turn as estate agents to have bare shelves. Just as supermarkets now face a shortage of lorry drivers to get stock to them so estate agents have a dearth of sellers coming forward to offer their homes for sale.
Some have forgotten that the stamp duty holiday is still live until September 30 and there’s a reasonable chance for fast actors to reap the benefits. A £2,500 saving on a £500,000 home instead of £15,000 may not sound so attractive but if it equals the lawyers’ fees or removal costs then surely it’s a saving that’s hard not to like?
Thinking back to the June 30 deadline for the main stamp duty holiday, we never missed a sale and while the whole team here worked really hard to achieve success a lot of it was down to surveyors and conveyancers so we made sure we personally thanked those involved in our transactions.
But where is the residential property market now?
It’s looking a bit like the supermarket shelves in March last year, when lockdown was in the offing and there was general panic to stock up on staples. As a result, while we have customers keen to buy there’s a dearth of homes to offer them and that’s true right across the price spectrum.
So what we need is the equivalent of a fresh delivery. There’s still discernible anxiety among people who come to our offices so masks are encouraged along with the usual surface and hand sanitation measures and during this heat it’s been welcome that the doors are open to avoid the need for anyone to touch handles.
Safe viewings are continuing and we won’t be letting up on that routine any time soon. But much as the world remains cautious about contact between strangers, we need to find a way to make sure that anyone thinking of selling their home isn’t a stranger to us!
*Colin Shairp is director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire and Town and Country Southern. He is also south eastern regional representative on the Fine and Country National Advisory Council.