There has been huge speculation from all sorts of commentators, experts and people with opinions about the house price direction.  Our approach at Houso has been to remain silent on this point, as quite frankly it was, and is, all smoke and mirrors, and to be honest I really didn’t find it all that helpful to start speculating in the midst of something we have never seen before.

Us Brits have a fanatic interest in house prices and how are home is performing financially, but since early March my feeling has been, that our home is our protector, it gave us and our loved ones shelter and kept us safe, never has it been more important for that fact alone, and to try to ascribe a financial cost to this element in the midst of a global pandemic was somewhat tricky.

The residential property markets have opened strongly, buyer activity and indeed sales agreed are all up year on year according to Rightmove, the average UK home has increased 2.4% since March.  Buyer enquiries are up 75% on the same month last year, now again maybe some smoke and mirrors, as July is school holiday times in normal times, so activity might be slightly lower than normal levels, but that is still a chunky number – and you know what it’s good news so lets just enjoy that!

Why? Well my personal opinion is that people have had time to appraise their situation and be critical with what they have or  had and what they would like, should we be put in this position again, its accelerated the move process.  There has been a significant spike in people looking for more rural properties, however horses for courses and all that and my feelings are this.

  1. Apartments and city living – Imagine you have been cooped up back in the family home for the past 16 weeks unable to see your partner and friends, perhaps this experience has accelerated plans to make the first step onto the ladder, perhaps buying with a partner or pal, with the Stamp Duty tax cuts BTL (Buy to Let) investors are also circling again- this is not ideal for first time buyers, although I hope there will be enough stock for everyone to get what they are after.
  2. Family homes – Working from home with kids, I should imagine caused some fractions with everyone over the past 16 weeks, a garden, a home office, a decent internet, some nice walks and a local community are all things that will be high on the search list for those who can make and afford the change.
  3. Down Sizing – My view on this has not changed, downsizing should not mean rabbit hutch sized homes, the downsizing market represents the largest asset class in our society and more help and thought needs to be given to this demographic to ensure they are incentivised to move, hopefully the SDLT changes will get things moving.

There is talk of October, it is all I hear on the grapevine, and I can absolutely understand the rationale behind it, Furlough is coming to an end, unemployment is set to rise significantly, and there is the very real threat of a second wave as the weather turns into Autumn and Winter.  So what should you do? – Again there is very vocal commentary on this, on both sides of the coin.  However I believe this to be a very personal decision that comes back to the fact that our home is our protector, for now and the foreseeable future.  Remember a previous blog – a home is worth what someone is willing to pay and accept – although also remember it does need to get through a mortgage val! Supply and demand are the driving forces behind property prices, but economic sentiment and the ability to pay for it are obviously crucial factors too.

Yes house prices might fall in the Autumn, Yes they might stay exactly where they are – but what can the move do for yours and your families mental and physical health.  If you do your research well, scrutinise your finances, ensure you have a buffer and then some, and make the move for what it is – something to protect you and your family and give you a better quality of professional and personal life, it has to be a decision worth considering.

One thing is for sure, is that until we get a vaccine, this is the new normal.  Mortgage rates are at historically low levels, Mortgage surveys seem to be holing true, the Government has pumped unprecedented amounts of money into the economy to keep a flicker of a heart beat.

I am a residential developer – as well as an app creator – so I do get significant exposure to the market.   I purchased a property 5 years ago as our home to be, a barn that needed converting.  There was another interested party at the same time as us, and it resulted in us increasing our offer by £10,000 (NOT GAZUMPING).  I nearly lost the plot over it, literally – but we took the view that we would try to trim our cost of living in other areas and build the house a little cheaper and save on some areas of the build – I definitely didn’t manage to save on the build! However soon after we bought it, sat in our would be garden, having a cold beer after a hard days work on site that extra bit of the purchase price was forgotten, in fact I would go so far as to say I was thankful we took the decision to pay it, it enabled us.

Please do not think, that we were or are immune to the value of £10,000, or consider us insensitive discussing that amount of money, we committed to a project that stretched us significantly and I am absolutely not suggesting you do that.  But whether prices go up, down or stay where they are, see what changes you can affect to your cost of living to give you that feeling of calm at the end of the day, if prices do fall, history says they will come back it’s a property cycle, it’s just this one is something we have never seen before.

The cost of moving is significant even with the SDLT cuts, so remember that Houso is a free route to market for your home – rather than listing your home when you need to move, list off market with Houso to get feedback and gauge your properties interest.  We are building the new eco system for property.