Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, in reference to the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions from December 20, announced that “the sales and rental markets remain open in all tiers. All associated activities can continue as before.”
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also given specific guidance for the English Tier 4 locations. It says: “You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
“Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.
Whilst the government is clearly trying to avoid closing the property market and has specifically stated that in Tier 4 you can continue to buy and sell property (ref: gov.uk), listings have already been dropping into Christmas with daily volumes down 36 per cent month-on-month and it seems unlikely people who are now not sharing Christmas with loved ones will be out doing viewings or permitting viewings in their property.
This feels like the perfect reason for estate agents that were open to now work from home whilst processing deals they have under offer and answering the telephone to keep the pipeline full for January.
Agents and solicitors have been fully focused this week on trying to exchange on properties prior to the Christmas break. With the increased workload faced by solicitors and lenders, the jam of property sales in the system is already putting pressure on January and removal companies are struggling to keep up with demand.
As the Government increasingly moves regions into higher tiers, agents are having to split teams between the office and working from home which is disrupting communication levels at critical times.
Although many agents have seen their busiest December for years we are seeing high numbers of price reductions as vendors give their properties one last push to be agreed in time to complete before the end of the stamp duty holiday.
A spokesperson for HM Treasury responded to a petition to extend the Stamp Duty break: “The SDLT holiday was designed to be a temporary relief to stimulate market activity and support jobs that rely on the property market. The government does not plan to extend this temporary relief.
“Since the relief was introduced, transactions have increased and seasonally adjusted data shows that in October 2020, transactions were 8% higher than October 2019.
“As the relief was to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the Government does not plan to extend this relief. SDLT is an important source of government revenue, raising several billion pounds each year to help pay for the essential services the Government provides.
“When the SDLT Holiday ends, the Government will maintain a SDLT relief for first time buyers which increases the starting threshold of residential SDLT to £300,000 for first-time buyers that purchase a property below £500,000. In addition, a new Help to Buy scheme will be introduced from 1 April 2021. This scheme will run until March 2023.
The other hot topic of conversation this week with new vendors is whether to list before Christmas or to wait until the New Year. Unsurprisingly the answer from agents is varied as the year we have had to date has followed far from the traditional cycles.
We would suggest that if you are a keen seller looking to market your property at a competitive price that you get on and list as soon as you are ready. You can then take advantage of buyers looking online before the market fully re opens in January. For those more relaxed about timing and perhaps more ambitious on price, get everything ready to go live at the beginning of January and be one of the first 2021 listings.
What a sad Christmas for us all this year, no doubt plenty of home deliveries and Zoom chats to loved ones.
Here’s to a lovely Sunday evening tonight and as cheerful and fun a Christmas as possible from all of us at the Movewise team.
Merry Christmas. 🥂
The Movewise Team