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Buying a home: how 2020 changed the homes we bought and what we did there

A year that has been hellish for almost every industry has turned out to be surprisingly successful in one area: real estate.

If January 2020 looks like a different world, let us jog your memory with this look at what has been happening in the London property market over the past 12 months.

The return of the turnaround

The number of homes bought and resold within 12 months hit a 12-year high according to a Hamptons International study which found that about one in 40 homes had been bought and sold in a year, offering profiteers and wealthy singles have the potential for huge bonuses.

James Hyman, Residential Sales Manager, oversaw the double sale of the Providence Tower penthouse to Shad Thames.

Contracts were exchanged on the £ 3.75million apartment in December / 2019 and the sale was due to end in April.

Then another interested buyer who saw the property when it was first marketed but was too slow came up with an offer that could not be refused, and Cluttons returned the contract to him – making the first buyer a cool £ 350,000 . profit without ever having entered the apartment.

Hot tub moment

The hot spring and lockdown led to a 1,000% increase in hot tub sales as those with gardens looked for new ways to be entertained at home (and aggravate neighbors).

In June, Wessex Water warned it was struggling to get water “through our pipes fast enough” as demand soared. Later in the year, as the nights grew cooler, fireplaces and patio heaters saw a similar peak.

House and garden

Being confined to barracks forced people to take a long, cold look at their homes. And apparently they weren’t impressed with what they saw.

The average Briton has spent more than £ 1,000 on home improvements since Lockdown 1.0, according to a survey by wood-burning stove company Contura.

Virgins tinkerers began to attempt to improve their homes, with varying results, while others turned to the professionals.

Meanwhile, those with gardens or balconies have attempted to locate their green fingers. A survey by Squire’s Garden Centers found that more than three-quarters of people spent more time gardening during the lockdown than they normally would, and one-third spent ten hours a week planting and pruning.

Indoor plant sales, meanwhile, soared 500% in the first lockdown. The most searched strains on Google were the air-purifying snake plant, cacti, and calathea makoyana, prized for its striped leaves.

Work from home

The joys of working from home, previously reserved for the self-employed and very flexible bosses, suddenly became the new normal and a new acronym was born.

Hundreds of thousands of Londoners have been unceremoniously evicted from their offices; all great for those with space for an office (and daycare) but a horror for apartment sharers who suddenly found themselves trying to look professional on Zoom conferences while using an ironing board as office.

It is hard to imagine that the WFH will not continue, in one form or another, after the pandemic. The savings to be made on office space in London are huge, and a recent Trends Research survey found that around half of us would be happy to work from home all or most of the time. The long term repercussions of this situation on the places where people choose to live will be enormous.

Stacks Property Search buying agent Sara Ransom has already noticed a big change in buyers’ wishlists.

Space for an office has become extremely important to buyers, while proximity to the Tube is no longer a priority.

“Buyers can get a lot more space for the same price by being a 20-minute walk to the metro instead of the historic ten-minute limit.

This has been impacted twice, first by the fact that commuters don’t have to be in the office under such a strict routine, but also by an increased desire for more exercise rather than less.

Off-market sales

The number of London homes sold off the market – with no listing on property portals or any overt marketing – has taken off this year, in part because sellers didn’t want piles of potentially infected viewers rummaging through their homes.

According to Hamptons International, about 15% of sales in the capital were off-market this year, up from 11% last year.

One notable off-market sale was that of George Michael’s former home in Highgate, which sold for £ 19million following a furious (secret) bidding war.

Escape to the countryside

An unexpected side effect of Covid-19 has been how it breathed new life into the country house market.

Buyers who anticipate a travel-free future with WFH are swapping their homes in the capital for (larger) properties beyond.

According to Hamptons International, the proportion of buyers with a London postcode registering with real estate agencies outside the capital nearly doubled in April.

Traditionally outgoing Londoners want to be within an hour of London, but more affordable ‘outside journeys’ – areas within two hours of the capital – are gaining traction.

What buyers want, of course, is more space and a large garden, and good broadband speeds are an absolute must.

Houses versus apartments

Traditionally, the central London market has been dominated by apartment sales. This year, with the emphasis on space and privacy, the sales volume of homes exceeds that of apartments.

“Here in South London the majority of our clients are expecting babies – they are starting to expand their families and are looking for bigger homes to accommodate that, so we expect huge traction in the family housing market,” said Becky Munday, Managing Director, Munday Real Estate Agents.

Meanwhile, apartments without outdoor space turn out to be a very tough sell. That’s good news for the humble basement apartment, once treated like a poor relation.

But Guy Meacock, director of the Prime Purchase buying agency, said things have changed now that buyers are desperate for the gardens.

“While they were once considered a bit dark and gloomy, the fact that they have their own access and a garden means they are now really on the rise,” he said.

When buyers search for apartments, Marc Schneiderman, manager of Arlington Residential, finds that big city blocks are out of favor – residents worry about sharing elevators and other common facilities.

First buyers

In theory, 2020 should have been a good year for first-time buyers, with the stamp duty holiday and the lowest interest rates.

But the wage-price gulf remains, and raising the 15-20% deposit currently requested by most lenders means that seven out of ten first-time buyers in the capital are excluded from the housing market, according to one. online study. mortgage broker Trussle.

Next year could bring some relief to the deposits department, however, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging to provide 95% mortgages to help more buyers on the scale.



The Selling Sunset effect

With most of us glued to our TV screens (not much else to do), the blingish Los Angeles realtor antics on Selling Sunset turned out to be a huge hit.

And the vintage TV series A Place in the Sun saw its highest audience figures for 12 years over the summer according to Channel 4.

Meanwhile, agents at high-end Sotheby’s International Realty get ready for their close-ups, on a Channel 4 special about their work that airs over Christmas.

Sadly, viewers will have to wait for the Channel 4 locker room reboot presented by Davina McCall and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Filming was postponed during the November lockdown.