Article written and provided by Jo Eccles, Managing Director at SP Property Services, for Beacon Gainer, private wealth advisory services group.
It has been over a month now since physical property viewings were allowed to resume and it has been surprisingly busy. Whilst there are, of course, people sitting on the fence and waiting for more certainty (many have been waiting since the Brexit vote 4 years ago), others have used their lockdown experience to cement their plans to move and refine what they are looking for.
There was a significant increase in post-election buying activity in January and February this year and, those who didn’t secure a property in that time, have been proactively returning to the buying market and ready to proceed.
The most active buyers have been those searching for long term family houses, particularly in the £5m – £10m in our experience. These buyers are putting down long term roots, typically with a 5 – 7 year time horizon giving them comfort that they can ride out any price fluctuations during that time.
The less busy part of the market is the smaller and more discretionary property purchases, where would be buyers might have less job certainty or be unable to commit to own the property for long enough to see enough capital appreciation to recoup their stamp duty and other purchase costs.
The spotlight has shifted on to what people are looking for. Some families will move to the country as they are no longer be anchored by office locations and commute times, but I don’t think London will see a mass exodus. The schools in London, the restaurant and cultural scene and everything else that London is so proud to offer will re-emerge.
How we use our space and the usability we need to carve out from our homes will become more demanding though. Our love for open plan might have to be reconsidered as homeowners come to terms with needing functional zones for home working, quiet phone calls, school / university zoom calls and much more – all alongside the day to day function of sleeping, relaxing, cooking, storage and so on.
Also will certain properties be viewed differently perhaps? For example will two bedroom flats now be seen more as a one bedroom flat with a home office?
It will take a while for everyone to prioritise their requirements and reconfigure space and lives accordingly. As with any house purchase, there is always a crystal ball element trying to help clients second guess how life might change and ensure whatever they buy is future proofed, but making good buying decisions is even more important, now more than ever.
Jo Eccles, founder and Managing Director of property search and property management firm, SP Property.