2020 was an interesting year for the British housing market. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an influx of properties on the market, particularly in urban areas as people looked to move to the country amid lockdowns.
Prices rose and so did the number of people looking to buy. But what about 2021? Will this trend continue and what factors will impact it over the coming months?
What’s 2021 looking like?
2020 was a good time to buy property if you had the means, mainly due to the government’s stamp duty holiday. Originally this was supposed to expire in March but thanks to pressure from citizens, real estate groups, and a very big petition, it has been extended to the end of June. The holiday saves buyers up to GBP 15,000 on stamp duty tax (it’s applicable to properties valued up to GBP 500,000).
This could save homebuyers a collective GBP 1.75 billion. It will also see an increase in last-minute purchases as buyers scramble to take advantage of the holiday. Previously the government said they would not extend it and that it was only meant to be temporary, but pressure, combined with fears that protracted closing processes might see many miss out, has apparently led to a U-turn. Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the announcement of the extension in a budget briefing this week.
It’s likely this will lead to a big increase in the number of properties being bought up. It’s predicted some 300,000 sales could benefit from it. This follows trends already demonstrated after the holiday came into force in 2020. Furthermore, many experts predict that house prices could fall during the year, meaning there will be more bargains to be had, plus the benefit of saving on stamp duty tax.
How prospective buyers can save money
Aside from the extended stamp duty holiday, there are various other ways prospective buyers should be trying to save money. In fact, during the house buying and moving process, it’s savvy to try and save money at every opportunity.
Growing numbers of buyers are looking for tech-driven solutions and services that can save time, and money throughout the process. For example, finding the right agent is essential to a smooth and cost-efficient process. If you get an inexperienced agent or one who doesn’t quite grasp your wants and needs, you can end up with additional costs due to misunderstandings and delays. This is something to avoid and can be negated by using tools to help you find the best estate agents in the areas you want to move to and picking the one that best suits you.
Other time and money-saving solutions include using online mortgage comparison sites, conducting virtual viewings, making sure you have a good negotiator, and being prepared to buy a “fixer-upper”.
If you are thinking of buying a house this year, the time is definitely now. With the stamp duty holiday in force for another few months, it’s the perfect time to save money and get yourself on the property ladder. After all, we don’t know how long the situation will last so starting the process now really is a smart move.