2021 has seen interesting times in the UK property market with the backdrop of the strongest sales performance seen for the best part of a decade. Here are some of the key headlines;
These have certainly jumped up on the back of huge demand. It’s still to be seen if this continues post the ending of the Stamp Duty discount in June but, at the time of writing, no signs of abating. Our own figures show over 5% YTD.
EVICTIONS BAN LIFTED
The process to evict non-paying tenants has been allowed to restart having been frozen for the best part of a year. That was vital news for those landlords under huge pressure and while our experience is landlords have huge sympathy with tenants who have been in genuine pandemic induced difficulty, those who have abused the system to get free rent at the expense of landlords are a massive stress which landlords have to be able to legally remove.
Tenants have been given a further reprieve from being chased for debt though with the government’s new Debt Respite Scheme. Qualifying people can get 60 days where the creditor (landlord in our case – or agent) won’t be able to chase for monies owed or add charges. This can be extended a further 30 days if there is a certified mental health issue.
Big players like Connells, Foxtons and Leaders have stepped up the pace on acquisitions of smaller agencies that have had enough of the pressures of surviving through Covid. Albeit most agencies have had a very fortunate bounce back because of the market activity. Connells buying the Countrywide Group being the biggest of these, establishing easily the largest agency in the country. Some of the confidence to do this has come by the failure of internet agencies like Purplebricks to increase their market share from where it stood a couple of years ago, or take any footprint in lettings at all. The traditional shop model with modern technology appears to have held up as the majority way the industry will continue, at least for now.
The original owners of Purplebricks have moved on to a new venture that has a goal to breach the property portal duopoly dominated by Rightmove and Zoopla. With various twists on the theme and a marketing budget to die for, it will be interesting to see if the one time ‘traditional agent slayers’ will be able to win favour with the very same agents they used to berate. The ‘run with the hare’ and ‘hunt with the hounds’ has yet to win over all parties, Imagine included. But we are watching closely…
LOCAL CAUSES SUPPORT
To finish, I’m highlighting a few local events and set ups we have committed to support this year. We are headline sponsors of this year’s Hemel Hillbuster cycling event on 18th July for DENS homeless charity. We look forward to helping them promote this to the widest possible audience. In Watford, we have continued our sponsorship of Watford Town Cricket Club. They’re building new facilities to go alongside their WD25 pitches. We’ve also headline sponsored Watford’s Covid Charities Appeal Golf Day to raise funds for multiple local charities whose income was affected by Covid. And finally several of our staff are doing a Sky Dive with Watford Peace Hospice as they continue their annual challenge to raise enough money to provide their essential services.
Let’s hope the vaccine rollout continues to allow us to return to normality in the months ahead and that variant strains don’t take hold and put the kybosh on the road map. If we can stay on track as a country, economically at least, we look well set for a very strong year ahead.