Demand is expected to remain high for those looking to move home this Autumn. And while there is something to be said for the strength of the current housing market being the driving factor, the tipping point actually appears to be a question of – what would make life more enjoyable in this ‘new normal’ to make functioning within Covid-19 limitations easier?
With family homes undoubtedly the hottest property on the market currently, and the likelihood of sudden or unexpected restrictions becoming a reality, a priority is expected to be focussed around having more space to spend more time indoors. Square footage is key to flexible living; accommodating a home office, family room or home cinema and retaining the option of hiring live in childcare are high on the list from buyers seeking to upgrade presently. And family homes that have been extensively renovated are likely to attract significant interest as the demand to move in, and avoid the upheaval of renovation work is preferential in the current climate.
September saw a gain in momentum with an increase in new potential buyers registering with us across all of our offices (measured against the same period last year). The real drive remains with buyers looking to move to Surrey and the country, as our offices in Oxford and Lymington show buyer registration up an incredible 68%* against the prior year.
A challenge for anyone moving this autumn is going to be around planning. It is simply becoming harder to plan, and unexpected delays are scattered throughout the buying and selling process. From lenders facing ongoing delays and backlogs (with many still working through payment holiday requests and increased demand from people taking advantage of low interest rates), to difficulty contacting lawyers who are still working from home, minus their secretary.
To the country and beyond
London has seen many residents move out to the country, or home (abroad) meaning the available property to let in inner London has surged, and as a result rental prices have become much more competitive. In turn, rents have also risen outside of London, in some cases, quite dramatically.
In fact, this year, the ‘virtual viewing’ has really come into its own, with more properties than ever before being let without an in-person viewing. We thought as restrictions eased, that the demand for virtual tours would die off, and to a degree, they have. Then back with a bang, the threat of ‘Lockdown II’, and overnight we have seen a rapid influx of tenants wanting to arrive in the UK, (having secured their property unseen and in advance), and start their quarantine in their new home.
Our London Lettings Director, Jane Jenrick comments, “We anticipate the existing pent up supply of properties to level out moving into autumn; now that schools have returned and everyone is finding their feet with new routines, we expect a flow of tenants to move back into London to regain a sense of normality.” With children back at school, it is far easier for employees to return to the work place providing restrictions allow.
Another significant shift in the rental market, has been the decline in demand for short lets, as Airbnb options become less viable due to a lack of tourists in London. The added supply of rental property has placed considerable strain on the city as more tenants opt for a country base, even if deemed temporary.
Polly Ogden Duffy, Managing Director
*Data source: John D Wood & Co. internal data, 2020.