New year, new lockdown. All the signs point to a buoyant first quarter of 2021 for the property market, at least until the stamp duty holiday comes to an end on March 31st. In Lockdown 3.0, house moves are still allowed, placing this lockdown somewhere between the last years lighter November lockdown and the strict March lockdown. If, as some reports suggest, this lockdown is to get tougher then house moves may be one of the areas restricted. However, this would throw the stamp duty holiday into chaos with thousands of transactions unable to complete and inevitably housing chains collapsing due to the increased cost from the missed tax holiday.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, said: “January is usually one of our busiest months of the year as people start to make new year plans to move, as was the case at the start of last year when we also had the post-election bounce that gave hope of an active spring market, before that all changed with the temporary closure from March until May. We didn’t know how this year would start with so much change and uncertainty around restrictions, but it’s been reassuring for those people hoping or needing to move that the demand we’ve seen so far is the highest we’ve ever had in January. “The housing market has been allowed to stay open during these latest lockdowns and agents have already spent months working in a covid-secure way and creating a number of property videos, so buyers and renters starting out on their search this year will find that, alongside the safe viewing protocols, more agents are offering virtual viewings to help buyers and renters better shortlist the properties they want to go and see.” “Exceptional demand from buyers taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday drove a surge in activity in the latter part of the year, combined with the completion of moves that had been delayed due to lockdown. In fact, every Friday in December apart from Christmas Day (4th, 11th and 18th December) were all among the top 10 busiest days to move in 2020.”
Andy Soloman, Yomdel (live chat service to estate agents) talking about the property market in 2021 said “This is a tough market to call, but the strength of new enquiries between Christmas and New Year is incredible. In the week between Christmas and New Year, a time when many agents simply shut, we have seen people chomping at the bit to get moving, and around 60% of those enquiries also came outside of standard business hours. “With tighter Covid restrictions, the digital presence for estate agents is absolutely key for building relationships with prospective and existing customers. As we saw in the first lockdown last March and April, those agents offering digital channels such as live chat and virtual viewings will be best placed in this next phase of the disaster that coronavirus is,” he added.
Having an online portal and the ability to communicate with clients is vital at these times. Redbrick Solutions deliver a high level of service to clients by providing automatic 24/7 online case tracking. Details are updated in real-time, enabling clients to have access to case updates at their convenience. Text and Email messages can be pre-programmed into workflows so that they are sent automatically at key milestones, keeping clients up to date and improving client satisfaction. Communicating proactively can also reduce the number of inbound calls and emails because client queries have already been addressed and answered. Proactive communication can reduce the volume of inbound phone calls by up to 40%, leaving you free to progress your matters more efficiently. It is not only clients that can be updated automatically but agents can also use the online tracking service to quickly see updates across all of the properties they have referred to you. You are in control of what is displayed in the tracking portal and can embed it into your own website.
With (as yet unanswered) calls for the Stamp Duty holiday to be extended, who knows what 2021 has in store for us. If you’d like to talk about how we can help support you in your plans, please do get in touch.