On May 13th, the UK Government officially gave the green light to reopen England’s property market. For seven weeks, home moves and property viewings were on hold. Even though the market felt the pandemic’s impact, many people had to proceed with real estate plans due to contractual commitments and other relevant circumstances. According to our interviewees, apartments for sale in Slough and other neighbouring cities have been an attractive option during the lockdown. Schemes like Help to Buy Equity Loan also play a vital role when it comes to property buyers, due to its low deposit rate (5%).
This week, The Telegraph has published an article focused on how some buyers stayed active and even made offers to secure their dream homes during the lockdown. Delyth Morries and Daniel Gravelle, both 32, are one of those couples who decided to carry on with their plans even without physically visiting a property: they have had an offer accepted on a second-hand, four-bedroom house in Cardiff. They also needed to sell their current flat, which was in the market since last June amidst unsuccessful offers from different buyers. Incredibly enough, they recently managed to secure a deal for £147,000 (£3,000 below asking) coming from a buyer who also decided to solely rely on a virtual viewing.
LOCKDOWN MADE IT DIFFICULT, BUT PROPERTY SALES STILL THRIVE
According to agents at Knight Frank, they have just completed the sale of a one-bedroom apartment in 35 Old Queen Street, a boutique development in St James’s Park, London. The buyer spent £2.5m after just one virtual viewing. A new Telegraph article, published this May 14th, comments exactly on how estate agents are already facing an increase of calls and online enquiries — Andrews, a south London estate agency, apparently received 226 calls in the first hour of business. An estate agent chain named Chestertons had 35 offers for properties in the early morning of being open for business, mostly coming from buyers who decided to stay put during the market freeze.
To understand further, Modular Properties spoke to Anthony Moubarak, Head of Sales, Marketing & Communications at CLICK, house builders and leaders in airspace and rooftop development. He told us a bit more about how the company has been operating lately, and also how buying off-plan is a great option for both first-time buyers and investors who feel uneasy when it comes to property investing these days.
MP: How was the whole selling process during the lockdown?
Anthony: When the lockdown was announced, understandably there was a significant drop in enquiries from buyers. After maybe two or three weeks, we saw the enquiries normalise as buyers climatised and returned to their property searches. We were able to conduct virtual viewings and in the case of Aspire, our development in Slough, investors were still able to reserve and secure properties off-plan. Thankfully, we have continued to make sales and take reservations during the lockdown.
MP: Why buying a new build vs a second-hand property seems more attractive at the current scenario?
Anthony: The benefit of new build properties are, of course, the fact that they do not require the buyer to spend money on improvements or refurbishments. They also come with a 10-year building warranty and are much more energy-efficient, reducing running costs. Regarding our Aspire development, buying off-plan in Slough means investors can secure great value and prices in today’s market and hopefully benefit for the forecasted uplift between now and completion (at the end of next year). The long lead time allows for the post lockdown recovery and the market to stabilise once again. While in a housing crisis, the demand for new homes remains — it merely is a paused or delayed market.
MP: What exactly are those active buyers considering right now, when it comes to buying a property during quarantine?
Anthony: Buyer’s primary considerations are affordability, capital appreciation and location. First-time buyers’ primary concerns are finding a home they can afford in an area close to the city, their workplace or with great amenities, such as outdoor spaces and good schools. Capital appreciation is an added bonus. Investors are looking for a return of investment — they consider the rental yields and capital growth of the property. Some of the questions they ask are: Is there a rental demand for the property? What rent can I achieve? How likely is it that my property will go up in value? Slough is a fantastic opportunity, and as such, we are receiving a considerable number of enquiries from both first-time buyers and investors. Aspire simply meets the criteria for a healthy investment return and is still affordable for first-time buyers due to Help to Buy, reasons why we keep on thriving through such delicate times.
It is early to analyse how the real estate market has been affected and how it will behave from now on, but one thing is for sure: buyers and real estate businesses are keeping the market moving through Covid-19.