Vincents sees post-lockdown property bounce
There is no doubt the residential property market is having an unexpected boom. Pent up demand over lockdown and the new Stamp Duty holiday have resulted in one of the busiest periods in the last decade, with house prices not only holding steady but even rising in some areas.
Rightmove said July was the UK’s busiest month for new homes transactions since the portal began tracking such data a decade ago, while the Nationwide Building Society said this month that prices were at an all-time high.
At Vincents we have seen a significant increase in property business of almost 50% compared to the same time last year since restrictions were eased towards the end of May. So much so that we’ve taken on a new residential specialist in our Lytham office, Luke Robinson, and are in the process of recruiting another five in the department at various levels.
Remaining open for business during lockdown allowed us to keep serving our clients and providing the full range of crucial legal services, with the corporate, commercial and property department continuing to work as usual but from home rather than the office.
Many of these instructions were from existing clients or via referrals from financial advisors and agents whose clients needed immediate legal support. Some of these professional colleagues are folks we’ve worked with in the past, but a notable number are new contacts.
In the early weeks we were completing ongoing and planned transactions. After that followed a slight dip as the nation was hit with the contact and movement restrictions, so viewings and valuations came to a halt.
As agents began to roll out different ways of working, such as virtual viewings for example, and people got to grips with social distancing and strict cleaning regimes, some properties did start changing hands again and again we benefitted from homebuyers looking for conveyancing support.
Agents held on to a lot of properties which were due to come onto the market for six to eight weeks while viewings were impossible and moving was not advised. Once restrictions eased, however, and with the implementation of virtual and socially distanced viewings, valuations, and house moves, these were released to a market bursting with pent up demand, demand which has meant properties are still holding their prices, particularly in towns like Lytham and Poulton.
Initially clients were primarily first time buyers, possibly the result of confined living with parents during lockdown, and those parents perhaps deciding to gift that all-important deposit after all. While those in rented properties, particularly shared homes, may well have found lockdown gave them the impetus needed to make that purchase.
Further up the ladder, many people have realised the benefits of having that little extra space or a decent sized garden and were seeking out a larger property, and there is a massive rise in moves to the country or coast for a better quality of life, according to Rightmove.
Relationships too have been a driver. Divorce and separation have seen a rise following lockdown, so new homes searches are up, while on the other hand new couples purchasing together are also spurring the market.
And, as early restrictions on moving home specified that new build properties were exempt, anyone moving into a brand new home was still free to do so. The continuation of the government-backed Help to Buy scheme, providing consumers with up to 20% of the purchase price, also continued to boost new build sales.
The subsequent Stamp Duty Holiday which was announced in July and is valid until March 31 2020, which means buyers can save up to £20,000 in tax, has further spurred the market.
Everyone is wary of making predictions, there is so much uncertainty surrounding the impact of the virus, the recession and recovery, and don’t forget Brexit. But for now, homebuyers are clearly more active than they have been in a long time and we are pleased to be helping so many of them to make the move.