How has COVID-19 affected the Lanarkshire property market?
The new year is traditionally the time when many people contemplate moving home and begin to think about putting their property on the market. Generally, it is the start of a busy period for estate agents who prepare for the burst of activity during the spring and summer months.
However, this is not Hogmanay and 2020, for obvious reasons, has been a year unlike any other. Anyone that has considered buying or selling a property can vouch for this.
In March, the UK government brought the housing market to an abrupt halt by mandating people to delay their home moves and stop viewings for new properties being brought onto the market. As a result, many thousands of buyer and sellers were left in limbo as to when, or even if, their property transaction would complete. Agents had to act quickly to try and get as many settlements as possible over the line before full lockdown came into effect and found themselves having to adhere to new rules and guidelines that were changing on a daily basis.
As Lanarkshire, along with the rest of Scotland and the UK went into full lockdown, the property market came to an effective standstill. In April and May there were virtually no sales or purchases settled apart from rare “essential” transactions. There was serious concern as to when the property market would restart, yet surprisingly, interest and demand from buyers and sellers began to rise rapidly despite the fact these lockdown restrictions were still in place.
This demand sparked something of a “mini-boom” when restrictions finally began to ease on 29th June 2020. This was evident from the spike in number of viewings arranged, home reports requested and property queries made. These far exceeded anything traditionally seen in summer months when many people are away on holiday and the market is normally quieter. COVID-19 broke all the rules.
The Scottish Government’s ‘Phase One of Lockdown’ was to include “the preparation of the restart of the housing market”. In the first three weeks of July 2020, the number of homes coming to market had increased by 29% compared to the same period the year before. This resulted in a very competitive market for properties situated all over Scotland. Here in Lanarkshire, most properties have been selling somewhere between 5 to 12% above the Home Report value. The number of closing dates set has also dramatically increased since restrictions lifted.
Interestingly, research has shown that there was, and still remains, a surge of interest in Scottish homes from buyers south of the border since the market reopened. As remote and home working will become more common and people prioritize their living arrangements based upon access to a garden and outside space, towns across Lanarkshire including Cumbernauld and Kilsyth offer incredible value for what they offer in comparison to the traditional higher prices of large cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh or even London! Commuting will surely become a thing of the past for many individuals and therefore the necessity to live close to a city centre is no longer a priority. An internet connection will become the workplace of the future for a large proportion of the UK workforce.
To coincide with the relaxation in restrictions, the Scottish Government announced measures to help boost the Scottish property market. The first change was in relation to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax which meant it would no longer apply on property purchases of £250,000 or less (previously set at £145,000). Furthermore, the announcement of an extra £50 million investment into the First Home Fund to help first time buyers save for a house deposit has tempted many to take their first step onto the property ladder. As a result, these measures have boosted the property market at this unsettled time.
If you are, or were considering selling your property, then I cannot stress enough that now is the absolute perfect time to put your property onto the market as all of the conditions to achieve a good price and quick sale are there. It will be interesting to see whether this mini property boom will continue into the winter months (which is typically a quieter time). In my opinion, I can see the current levels holding strong until at least the end of Spring 2021 given the current demand for property and the incentives that will remain in place until that time.
The future of the Lanarkshire property market, as well as Scotland’s as a whole, is certain to be uncertain, that’s for sure. Opinions are varied. Much will depend on whether any previous full lockdown restrictions will be re-imposed but the next few months are already shaping up to be just as busy as those since restrictions were lifted.
Take care and keep safe