Back In Business – a property market comment from Richard Stovold

“When the country was told to go into lockdown at the end of March 2020, it was pretty clear at the outset that the property market was going to suffer. While no one could predict exactly how things would play out, it was evident that with no – or at least very few – viewings and valuations able to take place, the market would become stagnant.

Some agents chose to shut their doors completely but here at Seymours we continued to support our clients through online viewings and valuations and believe this has helped stand us in good stead for the post-lockdown mini-boom we are now experiencing.

Social distanced viewings have been allowed since mid-May but Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement on July 8th prompted a real flurry of activity from buyers and sellers keen to make the most of the stamp duty cut and we, like many agents across the country, have been busier than ever with enquiries going through the roof.

A combination of pent-up demand being released, homeowners rethinking their lifestyles after time spent together in quarantine and the tax break on properties under £500k have all come together to create a surge in activity to help get Britain moving again.

Consequently, we are already seeing an increase in property price – even on values pre-lockdown. We have also seen an influx of enquiries from London buyers who, in the wake of lockdown, feel they no longer need to be in the city and want to take advantage of what moving further out can afford them.

Sunak’s stamp duty break has definitely got the market moving again – particularly in the middle market. The saving will give those nervous buyers considering a purchase just over the £500k threshold a big incentive to make the move – with less money going to the tax man, there’s more to spend on home refurbishments, furniture etc.

We need to remember that there is a time limit to this incentive and while the market is currently looking relatively buoyant (we’ve seen a number of properties sell within a matter of days of being put on the market) there are many external factors which could affect the market over the coming months, including the possibility of a second wave.

Should another lockdown situation arise, it’s a lot easier for agents to manage the sale process if a property is already on the market than to start from scratch. And so, our advice to anyone with a property to sell is to start the process sooner rather than later.

March 31st 2021 may seem like a way off but, as we all know, the property market can be unpredictable so this is no time to be complacent.”