14 May Optimistic outlook post-Coronavirus – Somerset
Estate agents across Somerset – Gibbins Richards in Bridgwater, Taunton and Wellington, Forest Marble in Frome and Holland & Odam in Glastonbury, Street and Wells – have a positive outlook on the property market after Coronavirus, and here’s why…
The impact of Coronavirus on the UK housing market will be significant. Just over seven weeks ago, on 23rd March, the Government ordered non-essential shops and businesses – including estate agencies – to close, viewings were disallowed and more discommodious was the advice to buyers and sellers with transactions in the pipeline – even those who had exchanged contracts – to postpone moving until the stay-at-home measures are lifted.
The Coronavirus pandemic follows almost four years of ambiguity for the UK in the form of Brexit. We’ve certainly had our fair share of political and economic uncertainty of late! By absolute coincidence, the 31st January 2020 marked both the end of one and the beginning of another period of ambivalence – it was our final day in the EU, and the day our first Coronavirus case was recorded.
Much of the Land Registry and ONS (Office for National Statistics) data on the housing market for the last quarter – the period greatest affected by the pandemic so far, is not yet available. This will make interesting reading, to say the least.
But, having studied the property market statistics for the course of Brexit, which was widely reported as suppressing the market, there are many reasons for a long-term positive outlook.
The pre-Coronavirus data reveals an unwavering year-on-year increase in the average price of a home in England, with an overall national rise of 21% during the five years from February 2015 to February 2020.
During this period, prices in Somerset increased by a dazzling 24% with the average home worth £193,950 in February 2015 rising to £241,035 five years later. Bristol soared the most with an increase of 33%. The price of homes in Devon and Dorset rose by 17.5% and 19% respectively.
The volume of sales is also interesting. Before Brexit, the market was thriving – the 12 months to February 2016 saw the number of homes sold in Somerset increase by 17% while prices rose by 6.5% The EU Referendum took place in June 2016, David Cameron resigned the next day and Theresa May became Prime Minister in July. In the 12 months to February 2017, the number of property sales in Somerset dropped by 6% whilst the average price rose by around 4.5% – a reflection of the market at the time with fewer properties for sale during this period of particular political uncertainty driving prices slightly upward.
The figures paint a similar picture between February 2017 and February 2018, with the number of homes sold in Somerset dropping by 5.5% and the average price rising by 6%. The volume of property sales dipped again slightly in the next 12 months to February 2019, while prices rose by a modest 2%. We can probably attribute this further slight drop in sales to our looming exit of the EU on 30th March 2019, which was then extended to the end of October.
Theresa May resigned in May 2019 and Boris Johnson became our Prime Minister in July. This was a pivotal moment in the market with a new-found confidence dubbed the ‘Boris Bounce’. Between February and December 2019, both prices and the volume of sales in Somerset grew with a fresh air of positivity. We finally left the EU on 31st January 2020.
The pre-Coronavirus housing market was looking extremely bright with modest, sustainable price increases across all regions and the volume of sales up in Somerset, across the South West and in England as a whole. Sales volume data is not yet available for the last quarter – it will undoubtedly show a dramatic downward shift in the sales pattern.
The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will be written in the history books as the single, most significant influence of our time, and we are under no illusion that there will be a huge amount of reverberation on our lives and finances, which will be reflected in the market for months to come.
However, long-term, we feel there is still an incredibly positive outlook for our housing market. Without a doubt, we will have to adopt a ‘new normal’ in the way we operate and interact with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants, but we are looking forward with optimism.
As independent estate agency members of the Experts in Property, we will be ready for that new normal; ready to tackle both old and new challenges with vigour when we re-open our doors to the public.
the Experts in Property network – the largest in the South West – has supported its members and their clients throughout the crisis so they will re-emerge stronger, more resilient and more innovative than ever before. Since lockdown, the agents – in conjunction with sellers and landlords – have created virtual video tours and conducted virtual valuations to ensure social distancing, which has resulted in sales and lettings being agreed. The network has issued advice to landlords and agents on how to deal with contractors and emergencies and has provided advice to help tenants struggling to pay their rent. It has held weekly webinars with its member agents, offering advice, a platform to share experiences and with guest speakers providing guidance on various subjects from business support to social media marketing and life after lockdown.
All member agents have been in regular contact with their sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants to provide any assistance during this crisis and offer help where needed – property-related or not.
Steve Moir, chairman of the Experts in Property, said: “We know there is a huge pent up demand for people to move home and we are confident that our member agents have coped well during this crisis; they are well prepared for the end of lockdown, to help those people realise their dream of moving.”
The network is welcoming enquiries from non-members, particularly at this difficult time. Any independent estate agents looking for advice or support should get in touch by emailing [email protected]
For further information, to find your nearest estate agency member of the Experts in Property, or to browse property for sale throughout the South West, visit www.theexpertsinproperty.co.uk, or get in touch with any of the agents listed above.