The phrase the ‘new normal’ became synonymous with the health crisis this past year and, for many, this relatively coined phrase represented a shared understanding that society post such a large-scale pandemic would not be the same. Naturally this idea has spurred various schools of thought, as the question on the minds of many is what will this ‘new normal’ look like for the property sector?
Let’s take a look at four of the key concepts that may re-shape the property market during the ‘new normal’.
- Demand for residential properties in areas with countryside appeal
The conditions of lockdown in the past year altered the priorities of many prospective homebuyers, as perhaps now more than ever, the home became the central focus of our livelihood. Survey responses, and data accumulated from various estate agencies, showed a pattern in the number of homeowners opting for a more rural dwelling over their city centre lifestyle. This was particularly evident in the capital as some 73,950 homeowners relocated to the surrounding areas on the outskirts on London. Furthermore, the percentage of these that sought a home with commutable city location and natural scenery, in equal measure, was far higher than has been ever previously. Whilst this is certainly a reflection of the unlimited outdoors and garden exercise encouragement from the government, it is likely that now this lifestyle has been popularised it will continue to alter home-purchaser priorities for the foreseeable future. Likely with the re-opening of bars, restaurants and other hospitality activities on the horizon, the popularity for residential property that offers both a countryside appeal and city proximity will be a hot prospect.
- Overseas buyers to face more obstacles
With the introduction of the higher levy from April 2021 on Stamp Duty Land Tax, and the government’s introduction of various investment-incentive visas, for overseas purchasers comes the expectation that international direct investment will be a significant source of revenue for the property market for this year and the years to come. The government’s additional surcharge may come as an attempt to drive an upwards pressure on the volume of investments made from international buyers in the shorter term. It may also be reflective of the end of the Brexit era, as the UK looks to build preferential relations with more nations. The value of UK property in this new era of prosperity and strength for Britain will prove to be an enticing prospect for overseas buyers and investors.
- The need for technology
The first two points consider the changing shape of buyer demand, but what about the actual logistics of the property sector? Perhaps, the most assured prediction is the likeliness that technology will continue to and have even more of an integral role in the transaction process. With deep lockdown in the UK last year prohibiting site tours, home viewings and more, the replacement of these key aspects of the purchasing process with technological substitutes has been essential to the continuation of transactions throughout the pandemic. However, what may have been intended as a temporary fix has had a largely positive effect on the process, streamlining many aspects. Most notably the improvement of online systems and direct, rapid communication rather than piles of time-consuming paperwork. New tech-driven processes such as virtual house viewings, e-signatures on documentation, digital site viewings and drones have significantly improved the efficiency of the long-plagued inadequacies in conveyancing procedure.