February Review - Full Steam Ahead!
The supply of homes for sale in Witney and the surrounding villages dropped slightly in February from 441 to 414. This is great news because if the supply continued to increase, the market would become swamped, which could have a negative effect on prices. The percentage of all homes that were under offer (or SSTC) remained unchanged at 40% suggesting with some conviction that demand remains very healthy indeed. A stable balance between homes for sale and under offer is very important. At todays levels you can be pretty certain that if you bring your home to the market at the correct price with a sound marketing strategy, not only should you find a buyer at a good price in a reasonable time, but you should also be offered a good number of homes to buy. The right balance is key to a stress free (!) move and that seems to be where Witney is right now for fresh sellers and buyers venturing into the property market.
As February progressed, the drive by those already in the process to get sales completed before the Stamp Duty holiday closed went into overdrive. Solicitors were close to melting point as the already stretched legal system was put under immense pressure. Receptionists, secretaries, assistants and fee earners alike were on the phone pretty much 24/7. A more complex legal process to accommodate social distancing and home working was stretched beyond belief by the stampede of clients pushing hard to save thousands of pounds in duty. Agents probably didn't help trying to get through to someone that could provide an update, fearing that their pipeline of sales agreed faced collapse if the transaction failed to meet the deadline of 31st March. This was it, right here, right now, all or nothing...
The Spring Budget delivered yet more measures to keep the housing market at the forefront of the economic recovery including extending the Stamp Duty holiday until 30th June 2021. For the following quarter the threshold will be stepped down from £500,000 to £250,000 to prevent this cliff edge scenario being repeated. This truly is great news for sellers and buyers alike.
Most will agree that one of the biggest challenges in becoming a homeowner, particularly for first time buyers, is saving up enough money to cover the deposit required and the general cost of moving. 95% mortgages were virtually wiped out of the market last year. This left many people with no choice but to put their dreams of buying a house on hold. The new Deposit Guarantee Scheme announced by the chancellor is therefore welcome news and a real game changer for many people who have been struggling to build up a big deposit.
These mortgages will be available for purchases up to £600k and will launch from April. They will be available for both new build and existing built properties, but of course will remain subject to status. Some of the largest UK lenders, including Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Barclays and HSBC have already said they will be offering these 95% mortgages with more lenders expected to follow. As these mortgages will be available to existing home owners as well as first time buyers, the scheme is also expected to help increase the choice of properties available on the market as more people look to trade-up.
In summary then, February delivered a strong performance across the industry in terms of supply of properties and sales agreed. Sentiment remained very positive and prices edged up still further but at a controlled, sustainable rate. At Martyn Cox & Co my team have delivered the best start to a year for as long as I can recall, we have a super team that would be delighted to represent you. If you are thinking of entering the market as a seller, buyer or just an onlooker for now, please just pick up the phone. We’re always here to help!
Simon Daughton - Branch Manager