How Will The Return Of International Travel Affect UK Property

Pfizer took the world by storm with the announcement that they have a vaccine in the works with BioNTech that is more than 90 per cent effective. Economic forecasts have since been enhanced and the FTSE 100 has seen several gains. Extraordinarily, the GDP is speculated to recover to levels from before the pandemic by the middle of 2021. As a promising vaccine makes its way around Europe and the rest of the world, international travel is beginning to resume. 

With the return of international travel, so too comes the international buyer - one of the most significant sectors in our cosmopolitan city. In areas such as Knightbridge and Belgravia, some estate agents report up to 70% of properties sold in the last ten years has been to international buyers. 

The coronavirus pandemic drew international travel to a near halt, stifling the property trade. In September, Heathrow arrivals were down 81 per cent on the previous year. The market so regularly accustomed to an onslaught of international buyers began to dry up. As a result, house prices in central London, usually safely afloat, decreased in value by 1.6 per cent compared to last year. 

While house prices seemingly plateaued, a newfound optimism has supplemented demand. According to London estate agents, the vaccine announcement has led to a spike in enquiries from international buyers. Despite questions still remaining on the efficacy of the vaccine out-rolling, the sense of hope is palpable. Discovering the light at the end of the tunnel has made its impression on buyers. The scale of the sudden restoration of interest has been likened to that generally reserved for a popular election result or influential budget announcement. The question remains whether this reinvigoration will last long enough to dispel the predictions of momentum loss in the housing market in 2021.

"Most people are taking a long-term view. There's an expectation that London will return, it's a question of when not if," says Ashley Wilsdon of buying agents Middleton Advisors.


Will A Covid Vaccine Bring Back Central London Property Prices?

During the coronavirus pandemic, house prices in central London challenged expectations by declining in value. House prices in the prime location fell 1.6 per cent compared to last year. This is partially due to decreased demand with post-lockdown buyers fleeing urban metropoles in search of the countryside, larger properties for home working, and gardens. City-lovers continue to question the advantages of living in the heart of a city where the buzz is on pause. Theatres, galleries, restaurants, clubs and bars have not been in normal practise for close to a year. A swift commute to work is not the luxury it used to be when you're working from home 80% of the year. A central studio flat is also not an ideal space to act like a home, office, cinema, gym and more.

What difference could a vaccine make?

The City Buzz

The announced vaccine has the power to restore the London buzz and vibrancy that allures people to the city in the first place. As entertainment industries reopen, the hope is that the bustle will return perhaps with a new-found vigour in its revitalisation. 

"The real challenge for London's prime market is supporting buyer demand and attracting buyers willing to pay more to be in a buzzing city full of all the entertainment venues, restaurants, theatres, etc. that they have come to expect. It's difficult to put a number on it but prices are definitely looking rosier with a vaccine than without next year and beyond," says Marcus Dixon of LonRes.

The Workplace Commute

As workplaces get back to normal without the fear of infection, the commute will return and boost the city centre housing market. Knight Frank's Tom Bill thinks that the one-bedroom city-centre flat which has fallen out of favour, could then be revitalised.

"If you look at one-bedroom flats in urban locations that have perhaps fallen out of favour in the past months, it's quite a good time if you're a buyer or investor to look at those. These are the types of early signifiers that smart money reacts to and further down the line rest of the market following suit."

Pied-a-Terre Properties

The central one-bed properties are likely to be snapped up by a growing group of buyers who have recently left London. Those who headed for nature are likely to find themselves needing to commute more often than expected from their country homes. These now comparatively good-value properties will serve buyers looking for a temporary place to rest their head, according to Central London agents. With a tidy sum left over from the move from the capital to the country, the pied-a-terre market is expected to grow. 


Housing Emissions Crisis To Intensify From The Coronavirus

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a report warning that UK housing emissions will be skyrocketed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The RIBA has cautioned that responses to the virus include changes in behaviour that will turbocharge the UK housing emissions crisis unless the Government urgently intervenes.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in people working from home, creating a shift in UK emissions contributions. There has been an immense growth in the proportion of emissions coming from the housing stock. Within Europe, the UK has one of the most inefficient housing stocks and the RIBA's 'Greener Homes' report urges the Government to enforce less wasteful strategies. The report suggests bringing forward a National Retrofit Strategy to make UK homes more energy efficient.

What is the National Retrofit Strategy?

As a part of the National Retrofit strategy, a sliding scale of stamp duty would be introduced with the most energy-efficient homes accruing significantly less tax than the least. The tax would have a cap of £25,000, 

A tax rebate may be made available for a period after purchase, encouraging homeowners to tackle their own energy-efficiency developments. The suggested improvements include insulating lofts and walls, switching to double or triple glazed windows, draught-proofing doors, windows and floors and adopting smarter heating systems.

What Does RIBA Recommend?

RIBA has outlined in the report a list of suggestions that the National Retrofit Strategy should incorporate. These include:

  • A commitment to front-load money by the Government bound to be given to energy-efficient strategies over the next ten years spent throughout this Parliament. This aims to 'address the shift in the balance of emissions and assist with the coronavirus economic recovery'.
  • More deliberate targeting of existing income support payments, including the Warm Homes Discount and the Winter Fuel Payment.
  • A distinct long-term timeline for improving the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in both the private and social rented sectors
  • More robust performance standards for new homes
  • Further regulation of the quality of building work to make energy efficiency improvements making energy efficiency improvements conducted by tradespeople.

President of the RIBA, Alan Jones, said: "When it comes to energy efficiency, our homes are fundamentally below the mark. Our housing stock sits shamefully behind most European neighbours, and this will only be made more obvious by the changes in working habits brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We need urgent government action – a National Retrofit Strategy – with front-loaded spending that would double as a fiscal stimulus and a new stamp duty policy to encourage homeowners to think twice about opting for sub-standard homes.

"As the Committee on Climate Change has made clear, we need the near-total elimination of housing stock emissions to reach net-zero by 2050. It's quite clear we need to start now."

The report will be included as part of a submission by the RIBA to Her Majesty's Treasury that currently evaluates how public finances can be distributed to aid in the passage to reaching net-zero

House Prices 155% Higher In British Areas Of Military Importance

A new study shows houses in postcodes belonging to significant military buildings, such as the Churchill War Rooms and Bletchley Park, tend to have higher prices.

Analysis by estate agent Benham and Reeves sees UK postcodes of military importance command higher house prices compared to the general area. The new study analysed house price data in ten military locations. On average, property prices were £618,225, which is vastly higher than the UK average. Houses in postcodes of significant military buildings are 155% more expensive than the current average in Great Britain.

The most significant price rise is in the area of Hampshire’s Beaulieu Palace - a former finishing school for special ops agents. The New Forest location has the postcode S042, in which house prices are currently 107% higher than the wider area.

Birds-eye-view of the New Forest S042 postcode.

The study revealed the second-highest house price postcode is that of The Frythe in Hertfordshire. The Frythe was used during the war as a secret research factory which manufactured army vehicles and camouflage equipment. Today, house prices in the postcode area 69% costlier than its neighbouring postcodes.

The average price for the MK3 postcode in which Bletchley Park is located is £291,274.

We, of course, cannot fail to mention the iconic Churchill War Rooms - an underground complex that housed the government command centre during World War II. House prices in the local of the Churchill War Rooms run in around £1.4 million, 49% higher than average in the SW1 postcode in Westminster. 

House prices in the postcode of the War Rooms are nearly twice as high as the surrounding Westminster area.


The director of estate agents Benham and Reeves, who conducted this study, is Marc von Grundherr. He emphasised that these costlier prices “aren’t so much an indicator of buyer demand, but more a demonstration of the pride taken in maintaining these locations and remembering the significant roles they played in their day.”


A chart published by Benham and Reeves displaying the results of the analysis.

The average overall UK house price is forecast to hit £362,350 by 2045, if the market is to continue to see property prices rise at the same rate, according to new research by estate agent Barrows and Forrester. Despite the coronavirus pandemic putting a short halt to the market, it has returned with a boom and shows no signs of slowing. Estate agents predict hose prices will continue to rise, and figures suggest that Britain’s property boom will progress. 



Can The Property Market Handle The Second Lockdown?

The property market has not shut in England despite restrictions of the second lockdown. The property market can continue to run, with viewings and valuations allowed throughout lockdown, the secretary of state for housing, Robert Jenrick, has confirmed. Renters, homeowners and buyers still able to view and move houses and construction sites remain open with tradespeople allowed to enter homes. Removal firms are also operating as usual, albeit while adhering to covid safety guidelines. The Welsh government, however, has paused all viewings.

The decision to remain open has been received well across the country. Many are eager to get on with their property exchanges and were relieved to hear that the government's approach had changed compared to the first lockdown. Back in March, all activities within the property industry were suspended for seven weeks, and estate agents were forced to shut their doors. In-person viewings were halted and builders forced to close construction sites. Surveying firms were also unable to perform on-site valuations. As a result, many home exchanges were put on hold.

Zoopla research shows the property market sales plummet over the lockdown market freeze and then rebound strongly.

As of yet, the property market is displaying flexibility and strength in the face of the second national lockdown. In fact, in the week following Boris Johnson's Saturday announcement of the lockdown, the number of pre-sale home valuations went up by 38 per cent. Many estate agents reported no difference in the number of viewing from one week to the next. Yet, the number of new viewings did fall by 15 per cent, according to Knight Frank. The number of buyers reaching out about properties also dropped, likely due in part to uncertainty on whether the property market would remain open. Nevertheless, the number of exchanges was 11 per cent higher in the week following the announcement, with the boom showing assured resilience to the lockdown. The number of sales agreed continues to grow, spurred, in part, by the stamp duty holiday.

Guy Robinson, head of residential agency at Strutt and Parker, stated: "Over the summer the industry has witnessed what can only be described as a 'mini-boom', with unexpectedly high activity levels across the UK, driven by pent-up demand after the property market was shut down for nearly three months… Usually, the market naturally starts to slow down at this time of year, but after the busiest summer that we can remember, there are a huge number of transactions in the pipeline for the coming weeks – so it is important that the market is kept moving from now until the spring when the Stamp Duty holiday is due to come to an end."


Average UK house prices see a 51% rise by 2045

Study shows UK house prices potential rise by 51% as government fails to act on affordable housing crisis.

A new study has found that the average UK house price could hit £362,350 by 2045. This number is based on the market's current growth, with property values continuing to increase at this rate. This could see a 51% increase from the current average of £239,196. The average homebuyer would also see their 10% mortgage deposit climb to £36,235 - that's an increase of £12,315 from the average initial cost currently required.

The study by estate agent Barrows and Forrester also reveals that property prices in London could reach £789,531. The research looked into analysing historic data on housing prices and their rate of growth over the last 25 years to determine potential figures that could be actualised by 2045. For buyers in the South East of England, average house prices could rise to a predicted £524,726. This means that buyers would require £19,258 extra to afford a deposit for a property in this region, on top of the current average of £33,215. According to the research, those looking for property in the East of England could see the average house price rise by £167,135. House prices in South West could increase by £151,255, while homes in the West Midlands could go up by more than £100,000. House prices in the North East are predicted to climb by as much as £70,041. This would bring the average to £201,742, requiring a 10% mortgage deposit in excess of £20,000 from home buyers.

For many, these figures are a frightening reminder of the government's stagnant approach to the affordable housing crisis. Year after year, the government has consistently failed to act upon the call for affordable housing. The UK housing market bounced back from the pandemic market pause, and house prices are climbing once again. This rising trend has been maintained for the last quarter of a century and continues to increase to an unprecedented high. Promises to address the nationwide housing crisis have been made on multiple occasions, yet the government continues to neglect its responsibility with very few new builds being provided. In 2019, the BBC reported that yet another government plan to create new homes in England had resulted in no homes being built, the National Audit Office has found. A government plan to create 200,000 new homes in England for first-time buyers has resulted in no homes being built, the National Audit Office has found. None of 200,000 starter homes pledged five years prior had been built, according to watchdog

Barrows and Forrester hope that the study will act as a call to action for the government. They say this should be a warning to "refocus their attention on the delivery of affordable housing stock for the masses" to address "the spiralling issue of affordability for many homebuyers.


£150 million to build new homes for the homeless

Over £150 million is to be made available the government says across England to create permanent residences for rough sleepers. The government funding for these new homes will be available by the end of March 2021 and will help to make thousands of safe, long-term homes for rough sleepers. The new funding is part of a larger commitment over four years, which allocates £433 million to deliver 6,000 units of accommodation by the end of this Parliament. Altogether, government spending on homelessness this year reaches over £700 million.


The government investment of £150 million will see homes built in every region of England. This will give people sleeping rough, or at risk of sleeping rough, a secure, long-term accommodation to be housed in. More than 3,300 homes for vulnerable people have already been approved. The accommodations will be accessible by the end of March 2021, providing some of the most vulnerable in society with a safe and permanent place to help get back on their feet.


During the pandemic, the government launched a campaign to protect rough sleepers. In March, the ‘Everyone In’ campaign began housing the homeless in safe accommodation. By September, the scheme had supported more than 29,000 people: over 10,000 people were placed in emergency accommodation, and nearly 19,000 provided settled accommodation or 'move on' support.


The new funding is part of the biggest ever investment in homes for the homeless. Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping, Kelly Tolhurst, said:

The efforts to protect rough sleepers throughout the pandemic have been truly outstanding, and I want to wholeheartedly thank all the charities, councils, housing providers and support groups who have made this possible. We want to ensure the progress continues for years to come and the new, safe and supported homes are the cornerstone of our work to tackle rough sleeping and provide a solid foundation for those affected to rebuild their lives.

The focus of this funding has on providing long-term homes is vital in ensuring people who have experienced rough sleeping can get off the streets for good. Housing associations will be working alongside local authorities to help people into permanent housing.


Altogether, 276 schemes have been approved across England. 38 of these are based in London, providing 904 new homes for rough sleepers. Once they have been placed in their new home, residents will have support from specialist staff, including support for mental health and substance misuse needs. The ultimate aim is to begin rebuilding their lives, gain training and employments and remain off the streets.


Value Our Homes

The Effects Of Covid On How We Value Our Homes

Home is more than where the heart is: it's a school, office, gym, cinema and so much more. This year, our homes have had the challenge of adapting to encompass all parts of our lives.

With lockdown, everyone was forced to adapt to new ways of living to make our space work for all of our daily activities. Our space had to become versatile, acting as much more than a place to rest your head. For some, it became the office, studio or gym, and for children, it became a school. Whatever your requirements, space has become increasingly important for many. Analysts predict a sharp rise in people looking to renovate, redecorate or otherwise adapt their homes in the next year, whether that's to create a home office, build extra bedrooms or to optimise their living space.


home-more-redecoratingCatherine Smith, a Barista/Visual Artist co-housing in Hackney-Wick, London, has discussed how the pandemic affected her relationship with her home. "Before the coronavirus, I was hardly home. Once the lockdown began, I was definitely glad to have my housemates, and that social contact became much more important. I began to appreciate our small outdoor space on the balcony but having a garden would have been ideal. In fact, having more space, in general, became desirable and previously wouldn't have crossed my mind."

Many Britons like Catherine, living in bustling metropolitan locations, are now valuing their homes differently. The coronavirus has spurred a scramble to purchase homes outside of large urban cities in the UK. Most of the nation became accustomed to living and working from home, and began to prioritise how much space they have above the inner-city locations. More and more people are choosing to leave London after realising the potential of working from home or commuting once or twice a week. Londoners are now looking to quieter suburbs and smaller cities, widening the commuter belt. 

Since the onset of the coronavirus, Britons have been planning more home updates as we all spend more time at home. Catherine says: "Now that I was home all the time, I had the urge to work on the home and make it more comfortable to live in and do all of my daily activities. Beforehand, I didn't think about or care about decorating, but the lockdown gave us time to get around to doing things around the house that we would have never done. We made all sorts of improvements. Such as getting new furniture: some new chairs. We replaced appliances: a new fridge. And, made some other home improvements, like putting up some new shelves. I even got around to changing the lightbulbs."

Our relationships with our homes have evolved, and space is now expected to meet a greater range of needs. Numerous people took to redecorating, painting the walls, replacing furniture and smaller home improvements. Others are now looking at the possibility of adding extensions or loft conversions to their home to create offices or more comfortable living spaces. This has provided some support for businesses in a difficult time. During the lockdown, many along the supply chain benefitted from the demand for home improvements, including DIY and hardware stores, furniture makers and electrical appliance companies. The current trend for building extensions, conversions, garden rooms or conservatories also supports tradespeople like carpenters, bricklayers and decorators.




Newly Approved LGBTQ+ Extra-Care Housing scheme is a UK First

Accommodation in Manchester to support older LGBTQ+ people has been given the go-ahead and will begin construction imminently. 

Manchester city council put out a tender for a scheme to build an "LGBT-affirmative extra-care scheme" in Whalley Range in the south of Manchester. A steering group comprised of eighteen LGBTQ+ members will help to develop the scheme. The accommodation plans to provide just over half (51%) of the 150 places are to LGBTQ+ people aged over 55, with additional physical or mental support needs. The extra-care housing hopes to provide safe homes for older LGBTQ+ people, many of whom have been experiencing intensified loneliness since the pandemic.

A report and housing survey by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation illustrates the need for the LGBTQ+ extra-care housing scheme. 74% of people said that they want to have a home for their old age delivered by an LGBT-specific provider, but 43% had no idea where they could get such care and support in the future. Bill Moss, a retired prison officer, is one of the many hoping to find supported housing. As the only gay person in his sheltered flats in Salford, Bill feels isolated. He says: "I could do with having LGBT+ neighbours to have a chat with. It would allow me to be myself. There are things you don't have to explain and things you can talk about that are impossible with straight listeners." Moss, alongside other older members of Manchester's 7,000-plus LGBTQ+ community, could soon see this hope become a reality. The construction of the UK's first-of-its-kind extra-care LGBTQ+ housing scheme is imminent.  

The LGBTQ+ supported accommodation will be the first in the UK, but similar schemes already exist elsewhere including Germany, Sweden and Spain. The project will be inspired by those abroad, such as one in Los Angeles, by not being exclusive to LGBTQ+ residents. The LGBT Foundation makes it clear the other groups will be welcomed at the Manchester care home too. "We do not want to cut ourselves off as a community," a representative says.

The Foundation also promotes an understanding that any targeted care home has to act as part of a more comprehensive package of measures aimed at supporting Greater Manchester's growing elderly LGBTQ+ population. In this manner, the LGBT Foundation is now piloting the UK's first accreditation scheme for housing providers in Manchester. They will receive training, education and assistance to be able to demonstrate that they are informed and considerate of the needs of LGBTQ+ residents.


Stamp Duty Holiday Protects Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs 

The introduction of the Stamp duty holiday helped to secure a 21.3% boost in house sales in September, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the housing sector. Figures from HM Treasury reveal the effect this has had on housing businesses and the wider supply chain. 

Residential property transactions rose 21.3% in September following a 15.6% rise in August. The surge in sales supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector. With more people deciding to buy a new home or move house, there are many more new homeowners ready to spend money on decorating and new furniture or appliances. 33% of buyers are planning to put savings from the tax break towards renovations or home improvements, supporting a wide range of businesses and jobs. The increased house sales will also be sure to support housebuilders and estate agents, among others across the housing supply chain and beyond.

As renovations ensue on thousands of newly purchased properties,  tradespeople, DIY stores, moving companies and cleaning businesses are all likely to benefit. The Bank of England estimates that those who move house are much more likely to purchase a variety of long-lasting items including furniture, carpets or electrical appliances. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "With a third of Brits planning to spend savings from the tax break on home improvements and renovations, the temporary stamp duty cut is boosting business and protecting jobs. This ranges from carpenters to cleaners, brickies and decorators, they can all benefit from each sale – helping us to further deliver on our Plan for Jobs."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the stamp duty holiday which began at the beginning of July and will end in March. The government imposed a temporary stamp duty holiday for residential properties up to £500,000 as part of their Plan for Jobs. It allows nine out of ten people purchasing a property to pay no SDLT at all, saving an average of £4,500. The government aimed for people to feel more confident in getting on the property ladder, moving house, selling, renovating and undergoing home improvements. 

Figures from the Building Societies Association show that there has been a considerable boost in the number of people who say that now is a good time to buy a property. 37% are confident in September, while only 25% believed so in June. It is clear that the confidence boost given to the property market through the Stamp Duty Holiday is impactful with a successful outcome of driving growth and supporting jobs.