The author is founder and director at housing market analysis agency Residential Analysts
The UK is slowly adjusting to the largest financial and social shock of the previous 75 years. Every week brings extra information of job losses and injury to the economic system, but it surely additionally brings information of a booming housing market. The query many are asking is why the housing market appears proof against the consequences of Covid-19. Will home costs by no means go down?
The reply is difficult. It’s potential for home costs to fall. Recessions and house-price corrections have gone hand-in-hand in a long time previous. With this in thoughts, as Britain went into lockdown in March it was broadly predicted that there could be a fall in home costs. The market shutdown appeared to offer some insulation from the fast influence of a recession, however job loses, falls in revenue and a credit score crunch all foretold a interval of gloom. But because the housing market reopened, there have as an alternative been indicators of a growth over the usually quiet summer season months.
This may be seen in each the continued rise in costs and a bounce in exercise out there. Nationwide, the constructing society, reported that UK home costs hit an all-time excessive in August and Zoopla, the property itemizing web site, reported the variety of gross sales agreed in August have been 76 per cent above their five-year common. Financial institution of England knowledge confirmed a V-shaped restoration in mortgage approvals in July.
A growth could seem irrational given the influence of the pandemic, notably as a result of different costly housing markets, comparable to San Francisco and New York, are seeing a reversal. However there are a number of explanation why UK home costs haven’t fallen (but).
This time it actually was completely different. For maybe the primary time in 50 years, the UK’s housing market was not liable for, or instantly implicated in, the downturn. There are many issues with housing but it surely was not a bubble match to burst as in 1989 or 2007. Whereas home costs are excessive relative to incomes, they weren’t unreasonable given enticing lending circumstances. For the reason that disaster started, furlough schemes and mortgage cost holidays have delayed the destructive influence available on the market.
It’s also value remembering that home costs are primarily based on gross sales that really occur. If somebody can’t afford to purchase, their lack of ability doesn’t depend in home value statistics. Sadly, it seems the pandemic’s financial fallout has principally been felt by the younger and low earners — these already least in a position to purchase. The credit score crunch limiting mortgages for first-time consumers can also be widening the financial divide. The truth that extra individuals are priced out of the market won’t have an effect on home costs.
In the meantime, those that have seen no monetary influence from the pandemic are in a position to pay the identical value for a house as earlier than. They could even be capable of provide extra if their financial savings have risen due to spending much less throughout lockdown. It’s these consumers who’re at present driving the rise in home costs. With the variety of transactions low, it doesn’t take many extra purchases to push up costs in any given month. Equally, it could not take many pressured gross sales to push home costs down however, in the intervening time, low mortgage charges and cost holidays imply most owners will sit tight if they will’t promote for the value they need or want.
The previous property agent adage that location is crucial characteristic of any residence additionally seems to be present process a rethink due to the pandemic. Being caught at residence has led some potential consumers to rethink what they need and want from a property. Many have found that working from residence, for at the least a part of the week, is a newly viable possibility. At the least a few of the present growth may be put down to those folks searching for a backyard, residence workplace, or simply extra space on the whole on the expense of a central location. With the added increase of a stamp obligation vacation, lockdown has made shifting home a a lot much less daunting prospect for many who can afford to. Wealthier consumers quitting London look like an enormous a part of this development, which can also be obvious in different world megacities.
And so home costs and market exercise push larger. But it appears unlikely that the market can stay immune without end. The failure of a Covid-19 vaccine to seem within the coming months and a no-deal Brexit are each actual prospects. Furloughs, bans on repossessions, mortgage holidays and the stamp obligation vacation will all finish. Even so, a way forward for persistently excessive home costs at a lot decrease transaction ranges is an actual chance.