Simon Blyth, Simon Blyth estate agency: The property market this year will be fine. Interest rates are low and there is even talk of negative interest rates. We also have a government that seems to be looking after the housing market, which is good. The boom in sales that we have seen during the pandemic is partly due to pent-up demand among those who put off moving because of Brexit but it is also fuelled by people spending a lot more time at home. This means they are now clear about what they do and don’t want from a property.
Couples often discuss moving house when they are on holiday and have two weeks together to talk things through. Spending much more time together than usual last year has heightened determination to make a move. That will continue this year and, while there may not be another boom, buying and selling activity will be good. Happy New Year and let’s get moving.
Edward Hartshorne, Managing Director of Blenkin & Co.: In North Yorkshire, many people have avoided being negatively impacted by the pandemic and are pursuing this advantage by investing in bricks and mortar where others are sitting tight and are astonished that their period property has risen in value by 15 per cent or more. Shored by a quick-thinking government, the remarkable turnaround of the housing market following the first lockdown took everyone by surprise.
It is reassuring that our Chancellor takes the housing market seriously, regarding it as the backbone of the UK economy. The impact of Brexit is impossible to call and uncertainties will remain this year but Yorkshire and in particular North Yorkshire has enjoyed higher house price rises than any other region in England. Family buyers seeking a rural retreat or safe city environment will continue to pour in.
Substantial period properties within 15 minutes’ drive of market towns with railway stations will outperform all others. York is the centre of gravity for many but Malton, Thirsk and Northallerton with their railway connection to the major cities will outstrip their less connected counterparts.
Patrick McCutcheon, Head of Residential at Dacre, Son & Hartley: Housing market predictions made in March 2020 forecast a collapse in house prices of between 15 and 20 per cent. They did not, which is a gentle warning for anyone trying to predict the next 12 months.
The market faces two pressures. First, the economic effects of government spending and the associated expected tax increases. Secondly, the resolution of the pandemic. Equally, behind those negatives we have the governor of The Bank of England stating his view that UK financial institutions are well set to weather the coming months. Most important is the return of mortgage availability for those only able to provide a relatively modest deposit.
The price crunch of 2008 / 2009 was driven in part by the lack of funding for lending, whereas now it is relatively good and within reach of first time buyers. I am not entirely sure that sales activity and thus price growth will enjoy the trajectory of an American billionaire’s space ambitions but by the end of 2021 it wouldn’t surprise me to see five per cent price inflation, even if it is not felt in every sector of the market.
Tim Gower, Head of Residential at Robin Jessop: In the second half of 2020 the buoyancy of the property market was unprecedented in many rural areas and we have evidence of price increases in excess of 10 per cent in the Yorkshire Dales alone. This buoyancy will continue into the first half of 2021 now many buyers can work from home and broadband connectivity in the Dales is good.
While it was expected that many buyers would have identified only prime rural villages, quieter villages are doing very well, with Thornton Rust very popular, due to being accessible but “off the beaten track”. Properties in villages within 20 minutes of the A1(M) are also sought after. The only downside will be the effect on affordability for first time buyers.
Andrew Beadnall, Beadnall Copley estate agents: It is set to be another year of uncertainties but there are still reasons to be optimistic, a vaccine is being rolled out, borrowing rates are at historic lows and demand is still not being satisfied. Rightmove predicts that property prices will increase by four per cent nationwide however more rural areas may see even higher growth.
The high end market, which has been slow for the last few years, picked up hugely in 2020. Areas that still offer easy access into the cities and motorway network but with a more rural feel are expected to continue to do exceptionally well with properties in areas such as Boston Spa and surrounding villages regularly receiving multiple bids and often selling for over the asking price.
With interest rates at an all time low bricks and mortar is still seen as a better investment in comparison to standard savings accounts. Buy to let investments are benefitting from further projected capital growth but also a continuous rise in rental prices. With the trend of South to North relocators set to continue, demand for the rentals and sales market look set to stay strong.
Mark Manning, Manning Stainton estate agents: Following the first lockdown, the housing market has exhibited all the qualities of a boom environment. This has led to significant price increases which we estimate to be nine per cent year-on-year. I can see very little changing for at least the next 12 months. Mortgage lenders will continue to lend at higher loan to values and the Government seems willing to double down to ensure the continued fortunes of the housing market.
All of this will sustain demand from the first and second time buyer markets and investors will, in even greater numbers, seek salvation in bricks and mortar and an inflating housing market. We expect this fortune to cascade to the upper end of the market helped even further as the region continues to attract new business and higher net worth individuals.
Andrew Wells, partner, Allsop: Not many people in the market predicted that as we came out of lockdown in July there would be a mini-boom in many parts of the housing market. As we enter 2021 there remains a broadly positive attitude, buoyed by the Stamp Duty holiday. In reality however if sales are not agreed and in solicitors hands in January, it may be a push to get deals over the line by 31 March. Auction, however, does offer a late option to beat the deadline and we have seen an incredibly busy few months with high success rates in our online auctions. We expect the same in the first quarter of the year.
The coming year may not have the same fiscal stimulus after March 31 and this may lead to a flattening of prices and a calming in activity. I’m not one who thinks prices will fall off a cliff in April. Interest rates remain remarkably low and there are still many house buyers who want to upgrade their space, have better gardens and a decent home office. Equally I do not see sellers rushing to put homes on the market so there is unlikely to be an excess of supply over demand.
In some parts of Yorkshire, principally around Harrogate, Boroughbridge and York, there are a substantial amount of new homes in the market or coming to the market and I believe developers will be offering good deals to keep sales flowing. Help to Buy changes in April and this may mean a greater focus on smaller new homes and fewer incentives for buyers of new houses over £300,000 in the region.
We have seen a resurgence in buy to let and I believe this will continue. It isn’t difficult to beat the very low returns offered by savings rates and dividends and through investment in real estate, buy-to-let landlords should be able to achieve net returns of at least four per cent and usually much more.
Justin Dugdale, Yorkshire’s Finest estate agency: What is remarkable is that the property market has seen resurgent levels of sales in the last six months of 2020 and ended with prices higher than they were before the first lockdown. Few would have predicted that. 2021, therefore, is going to be hard to call.
What is clear is that with the right government support, such as the suspension of stamp duty, the property market can still fair very well in adversity. So it is difficult to forecast what may happen this year without knowing the extent of the government help and how effective the vaccine roll out is. What I am confident of is that our housing market is built upon strong foundations underpinned by long-term low interest rates and whilst there may be some modest adjustment in prices this year, I doubt very much that these will see average house prices falling below the pre-covid levels.
Tim Waring, Head of Residential at Lister Haigh: I am sure most residential property commentators anticipate the market to remain active into the spring of 2021. However, the length of time remaining to agree sales, exchange and complete before the March 31 stamp duty deadline is rapidly closing. And thereafter? I suspect there will be a dose of realism but yet the tax duty saving of up to £15,000 is very modest in the context of homes costing many thousands of pounds. Surely this is capable of being absorbed between sellers and buyers if they have the appetite to strike a deal?
Will Covid, Brexit and economic factors affect the market looking longer term? Well, when the Bank of England describe 2021 as “unusually uncertain” maybe that says it all. The Latin phrase Carpe Diem comes to mind given what has happened over the last 12 months.
Edward Stoyle, Head of Residential at Savills Yorkshire: Last year was a quite extraordinary year that saw the housing market in Yorkshire, and the UK as a whole, completely defy the odds. Towards the end of last year across Yorkshire, we had registered an 80 per cent increase in viewings in the four months to October 2020 vs the same period in 2019.
Yorkshire remains a very popular relocation market with particularly strong demand from those who want the benefit of countryside living within striking distance of a bigger, well-serviced town or city.
Around 46 per cent of properties sold across Yorkshire by Savills were to buyers that were outside of the local area and I expect Yorkshire to fare better than other parts of the country as the demand for more space and rural living continues. The rollout of a vaccine is expected to act as a further confidence boost and the resilience of the property market in Yorkshire has been particularly pleasing because, despite lower housing stock, there remains a surplus of buyers. This bodes very well for the county in 2021 and beyond.
Jonathan Morgan, Linley & Simpson with Morgans: Leeds city centre sales and rentals activity has held up well and many of the key challenges we are facing are long standing rather than specifically virus related; a lack of good quality new stock and a small development pipeline, a lack of resource in the legal and mortgage service providers, nervous valuers and the massive impact of the cladding review which has rendered the majority of city centre residential buildings temporarily unmortgageable.
Many tenants who were unable to relocate in the first lockdown last year were quick to move on when able and this lead to an inevitably high volume of void properties. These numbers have reduced steadily and this has accelerated more recently as vacate rates slow. Recent letting performance has been well above our expectations and we are confident that we will return to average historic void levels by mid to late March.
We expect the city centre market in 2021 to be defined by strong pent-up rentals demand, which will be partly but not entirely satisfied by new, institutional build-to-rent schemes such as the Guinness Trust’s 1,000 unit scheme. Points Cross; and L&G’s first Leeds venture Mustard Wharf; the acceleration of EWS1 forms on a number of buildings which will make them mortgageable again and availability of premium schemes such as Aire Lofts at The Climate Innovation District and The Ironworks in Holbeck Village, which are already appealing to a wide range of owner-occupiers.
Glynis Frew, CEO of Hunters: The froth is likely to settle with no major shift in sales values this year. While we expect rural Yorkshire to continue to grow in popularity as some people reassess their lifestyles, there will not be a mass exodus from the towns and cities. Country homes have been increasingly popular but urban areas will always have their place, particularly for young professionals who will be keen to be among the action as normality starts to return. With lifestyle high on the agenda, rents are likely to increase slightly due to supply and demand.
At a political level, the Chancellor knows how important housing is to the economy and has announced planning reforms and a robust building programme which will help a chronic supply issue and contribute to an overall healthier market. Overall, the reasons for moving have increased, so we remain optimistic for the future.
Richard Welpton, Quick and Clarke estate agency: Demand levels are strong and the “fresh start” mentality will prevail. Add to this cheap mortgage offers, the vaccine and the record low number of properties for sale, the results of which will be modest house prices rises. For us, the Beverley market has been very strong and the whole of the market in East Yorkshire has also seen strong growth and this is set to continue, though I predict a slowing of house price increases at the upper middle and top end of the market due to affordability. There is a lot of interest in village locations within East Yorkshire and coastal areas remain strong
Nicola Spencer, Spencers estate agents, Sheffield: Apartments with no outside space have been the slowest to sell but homes that tick all the boxes have had offers over 20 per cent above list prices. Demand is way in excess of supply, with properties between £300,000 to £900,000 being the most buoyant and gardens, home offices, and outside space being top of buyers’ lists.
2021 will see no slowdown in this market. The investment market is also very strong, with people putting savings into property for long-term retirement income. I think this will be another tough year for people and finding positivity in home improvements or moving home gives a sense of purpose and control.
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