Instructions and viewings boost as buyers and sellers take advantage of stamp duty holiday
Data published by Andrews, the south of England property group, shows viewings trebled in Q3 vs Q2 2020, as buyers took advantage of the stamp duty holiday announced by the government in early July.
Instructions were also up substantially over the same period, more than doubling (123%) versus Q2, as sellers buoyed by strong house price growth saw an opportunity, despite economic turbulence, to push through a sale with plenty of motivated buyers around.
Viewings were up 205% in Q3 vs Q2 2020, with more than 17,000 viewings taking place during the quarter compared to less than 6,000 across Q2, as the stamp duty threshold increase to £500,000 came into effect on 8th July, and gave the market an immediate boost.
Virtual viewings still made up a third of all viewings carried out in Q3, and this is likely to increase in the coming months if regional lockdowns are imposed across the south of the country.
Andrews fIgures show that buyer activity was consistent across Q3, with viewings above 5,500 in July, August and September.
Instructions during the third quarter were a healthy 1,467 across Andrews network of 48 branches, compared to just 657 in Q2, when the country spent April in lockdown and estate agents only started to do physical viewings again in mid-May.
David Westgate, group chief executive, Andrews Property Group, commented: “Buyer and seller activity has remained buoyant since early July when the chancellor announced a freeze on stamp duty. We saw an immediate uplift in viewings and instructions following the announcement, and healthy levels have been maintained throughout the third quarter, fueled by the desire to get transactions done while market conditions remain favourable.
“Where the market goes next will very much depend on how the government navigates the next couple of months. Regional lockdowns are putting pressure on local economies and concerns over the end of furlough are likely to weigh on buyers’ and sellers’ minds.
“There’s still enough pent-up buyer demand in the system to keep the property market ticking along, and the stamp duty holiday is a once-in-a-generation bonus that will provide some protection against the choppy waters that lie ahead.
“Lenders pulling higher LTV rate mortgages over the past few weeks, is also having a natural cooling effect on the market which is not necessarily a bad thing. We want to avoid property prices falling off a cliff edge next March when the stamp duty holiday comes to an end.
“The government should also consider extending the holiday for a further period if the economic climate takes a rapid turn for the worst in the New Year, which it could well do if Covid levels aren’t suppressed and we fail to agree a trade deal with the EU.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty ahead of us, but house prices have proven to be extremely resilient in the past when buffeted by strong economic headwinds, which suggests the market is well placed to cope with any eventualities.
“As an agency, we are also well prepared to revert to virtual viewings if the country goes into full lockdown again, to ensure the safety of our customers and staff, while keeping the market moving.”