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How is the housing market?

Has the housing market had a good start to the year?

Outdoor spaces are seemingly still a high priority for buyers in the housing market. January has seen a wave of activity that rivals that of 2020’s new-year surge, and perhaps could surpass it.

The number of prospective buyers contacting agents between 2 and 12 January were up by 12% and sales agreed were up by 9% on the comparable period last year. Visits to Rightmove have continued to increase since the start of January and were up by 33% against last year. This is a good start to the year for the housing market and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues over the coming months.

It is difficult to forecast this, though. Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of Property Data comments:

As we enter the new year and a new lockdown, the housing market remains open but is focused on the imminent end of the stamp duty holiday and on the challenges of the pandemic. These major influences on mover behaviour are clouding the 2021 outlook, but Rightmove’s early January market-leading indicators of buyer demand and the number of actual sales being agreed are looking robust, showing that there are many compelling reasons other than the stamp duty savings to make buyers enter the market in 2021. Both metrics are up substantially on the same eleven days of January a year ago, which itself was a brisk start to the year due to buyers reacting favourably to the certainty of a majority government. That certainty at the beginning of 2020 was replaced by nearly a year of pandemic uncertainty, though the major difference between the first lockdown and this one is that the housing market is open. Movers’ changed housing priorities due to the lockdown can therefore be more readily satisfied, though obviously estate agents will be carefully following government safety protocols, with more offering online viewings to help buyers to make shortlists and to cut down on the number of physical viewings that are taking place.

Tim Bannister

Director of Property Data, Rightmove

The concern is whether buyers will face an unexpected tax bill by missing the 31 March cut-off for the stamp duty holiday. There are 613,000 sold subject to contract properties that are not yet legally complete. Rightmove predicts about 100,000 will get hit with the bill. Buyers that are facing an unexpected blow to their budget might not have the funds for landscaping their outdoor space as they may have hoped.

Regardless, people’s priorities and housing needs seem to have shifted as many are working remotely and home-schooling. The housing market activity in 2020 is evidence of this as, though most of the year was uncertain, sales agreed was up by 10% on 2019. Bannister adds:

While the tax savings were an added incentive, movers’ desire for more inside and outside space seems to be continuing, and this new lockdown could be a spur to act in 2021 for those who can and who did not do so in 2020.

Tim Bannister

Director of Property Data, Rightmove

Matthew Smith, sales and lettings director at Thornley Groves in Manchester, said:

The Manchester suburbs, places such as Sale and Altrincham, are absolutely flying. People are looking for more outside space, and there’s much more activity at the higher end of the market – i.e. properties being sold at £500,000 and over – compared to 12 or 18 months ago.

Matthew Smith

Sales and lettings director, Thornley Groves

This is exciting news for the landscaping industry as not only are people looking for more outdoor living area, but there is more activity in the high-end market. Presumably, these clients have more money to spend on their newly acquired outside space and would look to do so since it was a major factor in their purchase.

It’s not just Manchester where outside space is a priority. Managing partners Sue Macey and Cathy Morris-Adams of Lodestone Property in Bruton, Wells and Shaftesbury, said:

Our Shaftesbury and Bruton offices sit in the heart of the rural south west, and as Rightmove’s latest data shows our region is one of the few areas where asking prices have continued to climb over the past month due to the demand from buyers. In 2020 nearly half of our properties for sale went for asking price or above and as we move into the new year demand is continuing to outstrip supply as people look to set up a new life in the country.

Sue Macey and Cathy Morris-Adams

Managing Partners, Lodestone Property

Whilst it is a major challenge to predict what the year ahead will look like for the landscaping industry, there is evidence that the housing market is surging with a major factor being outside space. This is an encouraging start, and we will follow this market to see if the trend continues.

If you’d like more information you can find it here where these statistics and quotes were sourced. 

Read about the landscaping market performance in the UK Landscape Barometer here.

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