As of November 5th, the government has enforced a second national lockdown with the aim of controlling the spread of Covid-19 and protecting the NHS.
Lockdown 2 is set to last for a four-week period until December 2nd but could be extended further into the winter. All non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants have been ordered to close, while the government has extended the furlough scheme until March 2021 to help those financially affected.
But how will another lockdown impact the property market? Using our experience as estate agents operating across Hastings, Eastbourne and Bexhill, we provide homemovers with an update.
Can I still move home during Lockdown 2?
The key question on everyone’s lips at the moment. The short answer here is yes. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that people are able to move home, removal firms and estate agents can operate and tradespeople can enter people’s homes.
Additional guidance has also confirmed that visits to estate agents’ offices are allowed, property viewings can take place and preparing properties for moving home can continue.
The caveat is that all of this activity – as it has since the market re-opened in May – must be carried out in line with the government’s official guidance on moving home during the pandemic.
Are property prices in East Sussex rising or falling?
Homemovers in Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hastings will be wondering what has been happening to house prices in recent months. With the prospect of another lockdown, a national recession and rising unemployment levels, it would be perfectly reasonably to believe that property prices have taken a battering.
This view of doom and gloom has been put forward in a range of national housing forecasts, but the reality at a hyper-local level is much different. Here in East Sussex, average property prices have been steady and we expect a slight rise in the coming months.
Typical prices in the area have been underpinned by high demand from movers, the buzz of a stamp duty holiday and increased premiums for spacious properties near the coast.
Property supply and demand – what’s the latest?
There has been exceptionally high demand for properties from local buyers and those looking to move to East Sussex over recent months. The stamp duty holiday has attracted many buyers and sellers to the market with the hope of making significant tax savings.
As we move towards Christmas, we expect a high level of activity to continue, particularly as the property market will remain open during the national lockdown. The housing market in East Sussex is currently much busier than it was this time last year.
The pandemic has encouraged many people to reconsider their options and move home. This, combined with low interest rates and stamp duty savings, has resulted in a huge number of transactions taking place over the summer and during the autumn.
With demand set to remain high, now remains as good a time as any to sell a property and take advantage of favourable market conditions.
Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?
The positive effect of the stamp duty holiday – which sees buyers pay no stamp duty on properties priced at £500,000 or under – cannot be doubted. However, as we move closer to the March 31 2021 deadline, there is a concern that the housing market could reach a cliff-edge.
In this scenario, many buyers would miss out on the stamp duty savings, while demand and supply could drop-off significantly in April once the stamp duty threshold returns to normal.
There have been an increasing number of calls for the government to extend the stamp duty holiday beyond the end of March. As yet, there has been no comment from the government, but it would come as little surprise to see the policy extended in order to keep the market moving throughout the remainder of 2021.
However, if you want to make sure you benefit from the stamp duty holiday, it is advised you act quickly so there is enough time for transactions to go through.
What are homemovers’ priorities at the moment?
With more people working from home and increased appreciation of larger homes, coastal areas and outdoor space, sellers in areas such as Hastings, Eastbourne and Bexhill continue to benefit from increased demand.
As well as local buyers looking to upsize or upgrade, there has been an influx of movers to the local area who have re-evaluated their priorities and want to move away from urban areas.
With another national lockdown underway and the furlough scheme extended until March, it seems unlikely this trend will change any time soon.
What’s more, even after the worst of the pandemic is over, many people’s housing requirements will have changed forever which will only be good news for areas like East Sussex.
If you’re selling now, you can benefit from rising prices as buyers look to get more for their money. At the same time, those buying now can expect solid medium to long-term price growth as coastal areas cement their popularity.