Buying a house is a big decision no matter how many times you’ve gone through the process (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Even though 2020 is over, the pandemic and its economic impact is not gone, which means many of us have some questions about what life in 2021 is going to look like.
When it comes to making major life decisions like, say, buying a house, it helps to know as much as possible about what we might expect the market to look like in the coming months.
Add Brexit and Covid-19 into the mix, and you’ve got even more reason to wonder what’s ahead.
Ross Counsell, chartered surveyor and director at Good Move, tells us 2020 was actually a surprisingly good year in property, despite the pandemic, and 2021 is shaping up to be just as good, although first-time buyers could hit some snags.
He says: ‘Against all odds, 2020 was certainly a great year for the property market, and the year ahead looks just as promising, with a few struggles for first time buyers.
‘The property market remained somewhat unaffected and even flourished due to Covid-19, despite construction sites closing in the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020. Initiatives such as the Stamp Duty Holiday, and buyers desperately looking to move out of cities into more rural locations, can be to thank for this.
‘In this lockdown however, the property market remains open. Construction sites haven’t closed, and buyers are still permitted to view homes in person and move into new homes too. Therefore, we do not predict that the ongoing pandemic will lead to a decline in the property market in 2021.’
We’re currently still allowed to view homes (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Ross adds: ‘Lockdown has seriously changed people’s perceptions of property. More and more people are looking to move out of their flats in the cities and move to more spacious properties in rural locations, and this continues to be a trend for 2021.
‘Take people in London. Many people have been stuck in house shares, in small flats and away from any private outdoor space in the Capital throughout lockdown, and according to Rightmove, five in 10 Londoners want to buy a property outside of the capital (four in 10 before the lockdown).
‘However, there’s no doubt that once life returns some normalcy, more and more young professionals especially will be flocking to London’s streets. Although London’s property market has certainly suffered this past year, we predict it will absolutely bounce bank towards the end of 2021.
‘Overall, the year ahead looks to be another strong one for the property market. This past year has certainly shifted the way the nation views property, and although we expect house prices to fall after the Stamp Duty Holiday, we predict ongoing demand for bigger properties in rural locations throughout 2021.’
Meanwhile, Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk tells us that, where Brexit is concerned, we’re not likely to see any more of an impact on the housing sector – for a little while at least.
He says: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has seen mortgage interest rates plummet to record lows. Most predictions indicate that now that a Brexit deal is in place, it is unlikely to have any further impact on the housing sector, at least in the short term.
‘Now that a Brexit deal is in place, it is unlikely to have any further impact on the housing sector,’ says Salman (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
‘The good news is that more mortgage products are returning to the market as lenders gain confidence, making it easier for potential homeowners to get their foot on the property ladder or move into a new house.
‘Although, the Stamp Duty Holiday remains in place until March 31, some conveyancing bodies have warned that property buyers could risk missing out on stamp duty savings because of backlogs in the property market, caused by COVID-19, an increase in demand and the time it takes for the mortgage process to be completed.’
Ross agrees that Brexit is unlikely to play a big part in the housing market just yet, saying: ‘This is because the property market is evergreen; people will always have reasons to buy or sell their home, such as changes in personal circumstances and needing to buy a bigger property to accommodate a growing family.
‘We cannot predict what the impact of Brexit, or in fact Covid-19, holds on the property market long-term, but it certainly shouldn’t affect it much short-term.’
He also predicts 2021 is going to be a sellers’ market, telling us: ‘With house prices at an all-time high and the nation rushing to buy a property during the Stamp Duty Holiday, 2020 was definitely the year for sellers, and this looks to continue into 2021.
‘Buyers are rushing to buy a property between now and March to reap the benefits of the Stamp Duty Holiday and more people are looking to move into a home that suits their need after another national lockdown.
‘Due to the high demand for property, it’s plausible that house prices will continue to peak throughout 2021, so the year ahead is definitely a sellers’ market.’
Ross adds that it looks like getting on the property ladder is going to be harder this year, saying: ‘We know that house prices and mortgage approvals are at an all-time high, and this has in turn made lenders even more selective to who they lend to, resulting in buyers needing a larger deposit and monthly mortgage payments if they are to be successful. This can prove difficult for first time buyers, and solo buyers, especially.’
Ross awarns that people should still look before they leap. He says: ‘We know that many sellers are rushing to sell their property ahead of the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline, but we believe that rushing to reach this deadline could result in you spending more money in the long run.
‘March 31 is less than three months away, meaning for anyone wanting to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday before it ends, have limited time to find a home, put in an offer, wait for it to be accepted and complete the purchase, which is cutting it fine even in “normal” circumstances.
‘We also predict house prices to fall after the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline, so if you do buy a home between now and then, it’s likely you will be overpaying for the property.’
When it comes to what prospective buyers should do, Salman also recommends being careful: ‘Those who are interested in buying property should shop around and research what’s available in the market.
‘Our home moving guides will help to prepare buyers for everything from the mortgage application through to essential moving checklist to ensure nothing is missed in the process of buying a home.’
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected]