The work from home revolution
One perk of lockdown is that for many, working from home has become automatic. Companies have found that their staff can work remotely, can remain efficient and connected, and this might have a huge impact on housing, locations and pricing. After all, if you don’t base your location on your commute, you could go anywhere. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, you could move somewhere that is more affordable, more green and where you’ve got more space.
Obviously not all companies are going to remain fully remote, but if it is an option for you, and you know you’d prefer to live elsewhere, then why not go for it?
Stamp Duty, LBTT and LTT savings
The Stamp Duty holiday means that all properties up to the value of £500k in England and Northern Ireland will not be eligible for Stamp Duty. Following that, Scotland have announced that properties up to the value of £250k will be exempt and Wales will also be £250k.
This means that there are savings to be had, and as Stamp Duty discounts have only been for First Time Buyers thus far, it’s a great time to take advantage if you’ve bought a home before. Similarly, if Stamp Duty was putting you off downsizing, this might be a great opportunity.
New feature priorities
Lockdown has made everyone assess their surroundings. Perhaps you’ve realised you really need that garden, or you want to be near green space. Perhaps you’ve been left longing to be closer to family, or to have the space to host them. Thinking about what your current home is lacking can really help you prioritise the types of properties you want to look at.
It may have taken a global pandemic, but lots more estate agents and property portals are now offering online viewings. These are safer than in-person viewings and will help you decide whether it’s worth going forward to a physical viewing. With safety guidelines in place, only those who are really dedicated to moving and are truly considering the property will bother to visit, cutting out timewasters and hopefully helping a quick sale to go through.
Getting more for your money
Property prices are fluctuating depending on where you are, but if you’re upsizing, you may find that getting less for your current property isn’t that bad, because you’ll get more for your money on a bigger property. It’s worth bearing in mind that whilst prices change, it’s about supply and demand. There may seem to be a big rush towards buying at the moment, but not everyone will be in the position to do so. Ask how many viewings there are, how many others are interested and if there have been previous offers to gauge interest. Don’t feel you can’t negotiate a little, especially if you’re a cash buyer, First Time Buyer or not in a chain.
Mortgage lenders were being more cautious during lockdown, which meant that those without a larger deposit might have suffered. Some lenders required a 20% deposit, locking out First Time Buyers who usually only have 5-10%. Some have loosened their rules a little since the Chancellor’s Stamp Duty announcement, but the bigger a deposit you have, the better.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re on furlough, you will only be able to borrow according to the amount you receive, not your usual salary.
With multiple industries laying off staff, or adapting to new streamlined work from home practices, there are many people being made redundant. Some of these people may have been preparing to buy a property, but now be unable to do so. This impacts the number of people buying and selling – so when the news talks of the huge influx of people buying and selling, and the potential for prices to rise, remember that supply and demand issue.
As with all things, it depends on your personal circumstances. If you have a secure job, a large deposit and moving to somewhere new with better features would make you happier, then it seems like a good opportunity. For those who are less secure in their work, or concerned about finances, it may not quite be time to take the risk. It's also worth thinking about whether you're moving long term, or just for a couple of years, as the risk of negative equity is less of an issue if you're not planning on moving again soon.
Whatever you decide, with the Stamp Duty holiday carrying on until the end of March 2021, you could start thinking now about a future move, what you want from your home and getting your ducks in a row.