Inevitably, given the latest national lockdown, the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the property market continues to dominate the news. The following headlines and news snippets only go to underline that fact.
How is coronavirus affecting house prices?
As the successive waves of the coronavirus seem to come and go, so the housing market also appears to ride those peaks and troughs. And the movement is reflected in house prices, of course.
Earlier this week, the Consumer Association’s Which? magazine took a closer look at recent movements in house prices and offered some advice on how to approach making a bid to buy a house for sale.
During the lockdown in Spring, when many transactions had to be put on hold, house prices fell, and unsatisfied demand began to grow. When the lockdown was lifted, that pent up demand was released, the market bounced back and prices rose – enjoying a “mini-boom”, in the words of Which? magazine.
The boom was also helped by the stamp duty holiday which was announced at around the same time and is scheduled to last until the end of March 2021.
Despite the recent surge in prices, however, the article forecasts significant fluctuations in the months ahead – as the stamp duty holiday draws to a close and as financial support for the furloughed and employed is gradually withdrawn.
If you are planning to buy, therefore, you need to carefully balance the prospect of reduced or zero stamp duty to pay now against a possible fall in house prices generally as we move into the New Year.
While the current lockdown is in place, of course, getting to view any property you are interested in buying continues to be that much more difficult. In any face to face meetings, you must maintain social distancing and the government recommends virtual, video viewings instead.
Also, be prepared to offer a bigger deposit to secure a mortgage. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of the higher loan to value (LTV) mortgages have all but disappeared, so that it is more or less impossible to raise a mortgage with a deposit of only 5% or 10% of the purchase price.
How will Covid-19 shape our homes in 2021?
It is not only house prices that are being shaped by the effects of the pandemic, but also the design and lifestyle opportunities offered by the homes in which we live, argued a story in the Mail Online last week.
As homeowners are spending far more time at home, working there and socialising in the garden, rather than inside, certain design features and appearances are taking centre-stage.
The newspaper highlighted the following newly-desirable features in today’s home:
A clean and bright look to the kitchen
- there has been a notable rise on homeowners looking for an “all-white” kitchen that remains bright-looking and clean from one day to the next;
Pretty, germ-free bathrooms
- in step with the clean lines for your kitchen, there is also keen interest in bathrooms looking bright and cheerful, but with antibacterial and antimicrobial materials for fittings such as taps and bath rails – where copper is the current material of choice;
- designers are being asked to come with furniture and built-in units that can easily be converted from one use to another – a “murphy bed” that can be stored against the wall and only pulled down when needed, for example, makes it easier to use the same room as a home office;
- more than ever before, the garden has become another room of the house – and used mainly for entertaining;
- key searches related to the garden include such features as hot tubs, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and summerhouses;
Chic but smart too
- indoors, the new chic comes in the shape of a home gym or exercise space;
- but chic is also coupled with a drive to making the home smarter, with appliances throughout the home remotely controlled through wireless technology – with touch-free switches seen as an ally in the fight against germs.
Older renters and retirees now the fastest-growing tenant groups
Tenants are getting older, according to a story in Landlord Today on the 5th of November.
Statistics from a recent survey show that, in the past ten years, there has been a 118% increase in the number of households between the ages of 55 and 64. There has been a corresponding 93% increase in those households of 65 and older.
There are now an estimated 576,000 people over the age of 55 living in the private rented sector – some 16.2% of the total households in rented accommodation. Ten years ago, that proportion was just 11.3%.
The good news is that the survey also revealed older tenants to be generally happier in their chosen private rented accommodation – and have lived in it longer – than younger age groups.