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Following an unsettling year of chaos and the extension of the stamp duty holiday, it’s been a changeable 12 months in the property market to say the least. From fluctuating house prices to improved mortgage opportunities, here’s what your local agents predict for the housing market in NappyValley, says Georgina Blaskey
Let’s take a look at what is happening in the market at the moment
“Starting January 2021 in the middle of Lockdown 3 created an interesting market; stock levels sat at circa a third of the level of 2020 and buyer levels were similarly low, however there was a feeling of confidence with the number of sales agreed and rate of new instructions coming to the market sitting above those of Q1 2020 and 2019. Anyone looking to buy or sell at this time seemed focused and driven to do so.
The spring budget solidified this confidence and the start of the roadmap out of lockdown really saw the market in March gain momentum. The pent-up demand, extension of the stamp duty holiday and improved mortgage products for buyers wanting a higher loan to value resulted in a steep increase in activity across the board. The quality of available stock has been matched by the quality of focused buyers. As a result, in March and April, Rampton Baseley recorded record sales agreed and new instructions and we have seen a definite return of ‘best and final’ offers occurring on the majority of sales.” – Mike Hall of Rampton Baseley
“The local market has been really busy, and the stamp duty extension and re-introduction of 95% LTV mortgages has been a real boost for the property industry. We saw a real increase in activity in Q1&2, with March and April being the busiest they have been for seven years. Those who are searching or selling seem more serious than ever. Due to the lack of properties available and an increase in demand, we find ourselves in a strong sellers’ market.” – Amelia Lambrianou of Marsh & Parsons
“The current marketplace seems to be buyer orientated, with vendors deciding to use the stamp duty holiday as an opportunity to secure a buyer. With this in mind, we do seem to be seeing prices falling slightly where vendors are accepting offers at lower prices. This could be for several reasons, but mostly to take advantage of savings for the ongoing purchase. I believe this trend was to be expected, but following the stamp duty holiday extension, I would expect another wave of motivated buyers who think they’d lost the opportunity first time round.” – Jack Miles of Portico
“We are in the thick of a classic “old-school” spring market Between the Commons. Despite all the talk of a London exodus, unsurprisingly many locals find it hard to permanently depart all the post-pandemic joys Wandsworth, Clapham and Battersea have to offer. So not much is coming on the market; and that, combined with a large, motivated gang of qualified yet discerning buyers (also disproving the London exodus theory), means a strong market for sellers and yes, sealed bids in quite a few cases. We have found the properties achieving multiple bids have been either best in class, totally unmodernised or something with potential (with or without planning). If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time to declutter, touch-up and capitalise on the end of May/June sunshine period.” – Austin Thorogood of John Thorogood
What does this mean for Q2 and Q3?
“Based on a positive Q1, we predict an increase in both sales and instructions in Q2 and 3. There has been a nervousness around what is going to happen once the stamp duty extension ends, however with life returning to some kind of normality, there seems to be a more positive outlook and we expect this strong market to continue.” – Amelia
“After the last couple of busy months and as we approach the end of the stamp duty holiday, we are starting to feel like the market is splitting in two: the flat market feels like it is starting to slow down with viewing numbers beginning to taper off. This is not a huge surprise as flat sales have fluctuated over the past year and anyone really wanting to make the most of the stamp duty savings will have pushed the button in March and April. That said, I expect that as companies start to call their staff back to the office, we will see a new market for ‘pied a terre’ buyers. The house market, on the other hand, continues to push on. While we expect things to feel the traditional effects of the summer holidays in August; we predict the next couple of months will be as busy as the last and the current confidence in the market will continue throughout the year.” – Mike
“With low stock levels across the board still, it should mean the pool of buyers continues into the summer as many will have failed to find something suitable before then. This may provide an opportunity to sell well through July and August (and have the house shown, looked after and agreed by a conscientious agent while you’re away!). Discerning buyers aren’t prepared to jump at anything (this isn’t Q1 2020!), so it’s important to make your property shine.” – Austin
So is now a good time to sell a property?
“The market at the moment is about as good as I have seen it and where we are seeing competitive offers on the majority of sales only one buyer can be successful, and we are subsequently left with very motivated buyers who have missed out.” – Mike
“Given the increase in buyers and the improvements of lending availability it should be a good time to sell. Unlike parts of Q4 last year, where first-time buyers were needing 25% deposits and big lenders were steering away from flats all together, we’re now seeing the return of the 90% LTV market and in some cases 95%. This will enable buyers, especially first-time buyers, to act on the enthusiasm we’ve seen since the end of the first lockdown. In addition to this, year on year figures show supply of new property to the market is down compared to buyer numbers which appear to be rising. This creates significant competition where supply can’t match demand and we may see prices rise on the back of this.”– Jack
“It depends of course where your next move is but in short, yes! The supply/demand dynamic is strongly in the sellers’ favour although this can change quickly in the local area. Prices are strong and we are reaching new peaks and often breaking records, but of course tying in a purchase in the same environment can be tricky.” – Austin
What if I am thinking about moving out of London?
“A good number of our clients are making the move to the country. However, in most cases we are seeing that those making the move have always had this as a long-term plan; the impact of Covid may have simply brought this move forward by a few years. The country market traditionally picks up in the spring and summer in time for the gardens looking their best.” – Mike
“Some clients have definitely accelerated plans to go, others already had second properties out of town, which they have realised they can now call home. If it’s a first (and quite daunting) move out some are considering renting in an area first to ‘suss’ it out; a wise move to find out the best streets and local neighbourhood pockets. Don’t be drawn by the agent in the country, who happens to have a local branch and says that will help you get the house you want. It rarely does help or end satisfactorily. Your choice of selling agency here should be based on other factors.” – Austin
So should I stay put in NappyValley, and maybe even upsize here instead?
“Battersea continues to be a popular area and whilst there are some people who no longer need to be in London and have made the move to the country, there will always be a buzz around living in the capital. We are seeing in both the sales and rental market that people are starting to return to London. With the new government announcement and the lockdown rules easing, I predict even more people will look to buy here as all the bars and restaurants make it such a sociable place to live. The green open spaces and fantastic schools are always going to keep people looking in the area.” – Amelia
“Although some sellers may be moving out to the country, there are a very good number of people who simply want to live in London. They want to live in a vibrant hub with the bars, cafés, schools and parks on their doorstep. This will never change and this market remains strong.
The common factor is that buyers are moving up. People are taking stock of their lives and focusing on what is important to them; family and space.
Also, although some people have moved out of London, we are seeing more and more people wanting to return to the office and we expect to see a large number of people return to the city once normality returns.” – Mike
“Upsizing locally can be harder than you think. There is generally a shortage of larger family houses due to the nature of the local housing stock – rows of terraced houses. It also requires a large financial leap, plus the additional stamp duty. As buyers are looking more than ever for extra space (home office, more garden) they will wait for the right property and this may take time, sometimes many years depending on how particular their requirements. Other attributes may convince someone to move – off-street parking or a view. Upsizing from a flat to a terraced house is more achievable, especially if your flat has a patio or terrace and there will usually be a choice of houses for you to consider. Catchment distances for Honeywell and Belleville in particular are a big determining factor and our website can guide you in this regard.” – Austin
What about buy to lets – is it still worth it and if yes, what should I go for?
“The buy to let market has been impacted over the past few years by increased tax on income, higher stamp duty and smaller percentage growth on capital. And now the discussions around increased CGT and tax on overseas buyers may impact it further.
However, despite all of this UK property tax still remains very competitive on a global level and bricks and mortar remain a secure investment. We are seeing investors looking with a longer term view; adding to portfolios, pension purchases or parents buying for children.” – Mike
What has Covid done to change the market?
“COVID-19 has brought a few changes to the market as well. It seems that the majority of buyers who see a property in person are serious and in a proceedable position. Having said that, video tours have played their part with some buyers securing a property without seeing it in person.”- Jack
“Buyers seem more serious; as we are still in a global pandemic, we are finding that buyers are being more selective on what they view rather than going to see everything that is on the market. We must, of course, adapt to people working from home, however I would not say that this has impacted viewings or the conveyancing process.” – Amelia
“Buyers actively looking are more motivated and focused. We are seeing far fewer buyers browsing and we as agents are ensuring that buyers are fully qualified before we visit a property. We are also seeing that due to WFH buyers are more readily available to view during the day rather than evenings.” – Mike
“Undoubtedly there have been less ‘tyre-kicker’ viewings over the last 14 months. People have given greater consideration to what they really need as well as want and whether they’re prepared to pay for it, rather than base it on the fear of future market increases. But this fear (for up-sizers at least) has reared its head in the past (as recently as Q1 2020) and Covid has done little to stem its tide. We all have friends who have moved out as a result of Covid, but the wave of buyers coming from all over London to settle and raise a family in this wonderful area will not lessen any time soon.” – Austin