The first quarter of 2021 has been remarkable. Progress on the Covid-19 vaccination is progressing at a startling pace thankfully, with over 8m people having received a second dose¹; and newly reopened outdoor spaces, such as pubs, have reinvigorated the nation. The optimism and enthusiasm this manifested are being keenly reflected by heightened activity levels in the property space. 

The indicators of demand we are seeing in our business are being echoed across the industry. There was a 57 per cent increase in prospective buyer numbers for March relative to February, with 21 per cent of tenants looking to move². Buyer enquiries were up 42 per cent during March, the largest figure since September 2020³. And UK house price growth of 5.7 per cent⁴ was accompanied with the number of sales agreed at its highest point since before the Global Financial Crisis⁵.

Following last month’s Budget⁶, and the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) extension in England and Northern Ireland, we’ve seen an uptick in first-time buyers (FTBs) who’ve been aided significantly by the 95 per cent mortgage guarantee scheme as well as Help to Buy. New research suggests that even after the SDLT holiday has expired nearly 79 per cent of housing in England will remain SDLT free⁷. After the final September cut off there will be no stamp duty levied on purchases up to £250,000 for FTBs and, given average prices for this demographic are £221,743, this sits well within that threshold. 

Another significant segment has been home-movers! Q1 2021 experienced over 580,000 home movers across both owner-occupied and rental markets⁸. Market surveys indicate that almost a third, 31 per cent, of households plan to move as a result of lockdown experiences⁹. Relative to the 5 per cent that moves typically in a given year this is a step change that embodies an incredible opportunity for new build developers to satisfy consumer needs directly.  

In London for instance, the need for green space and larger properties is translating into market-leading demand for areas including Barnes (42 per cent), Richmond (41 per cent), Putney (37 per cent), Islington (29 per cent) and Wandsworth (25 per cent)¹º. Moreover, homemovers prioritise good road networks and transport links as the two most important features listed in survey responses¹¹. With those aged 25 - 34 more likely to plan a move than those aged 60 and over, the desire to improve living standards is a key feature that drove 35 per cent more home-mover activity in January compared to last year¹².

Indeed will the emerging trend towards wellbeing and nature in/near our homes remain a key catalyst for property movement? Or is this a knee-jerk consequence of the lockdown experience that fades as normalcy returns? 

We hope, and expect, that the fantastic foundations laid in the first quarter will continue throughout the year. Both with regards to the health and wellbeing of the nation, as well as with the property industry’s ability to contribute to the growth of the economy. A buoyant real estate market serves to attract investment, enhance housing supply, provide jobs, enrich communities and build value for all stakeholders.

Bronze, Wandsworth, A New development by Strawberry Star