What has the pandemic done to the housing market?

We've seen the numerous headlines about how the Stamp Duty holiday has spurred many people into moving house. But, it seems the benefits are more than just financial - and it seems many are trading up lifestyles as well as their homes.

According to Rightmove, Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched for location. The same research also revealed Devon and Dorset rank in the most searched-for places to live - with Dorset rising from 20th to 10th.

Sales have risen fastest for bigger homes, with 5-bed detached houses increasing 38% and 4-bed detached 26%. Semis are doing just as well, with 5 and 4 beds attracting rises of around 22%. In an article on the BBC website estate agents in Cornwall say demand is now high, but supply is low, meaning a four or five bed detached in the county now costs between £500,000 and £700,000.

Of course, the Stamp Duty holiday has helped financially, but the pandemic has also brought with it new wants and needs for a lifestyle change. In October, the BBC ran a feature on how the pandemic had re-shaped the working world, normalised remote and "hybrid" working and how this affected our communication with others.

According to Future Forum research quoted in the article, a majority of the 4,700 surveyed happy to continue remote working in some capacity. In fact, 72% said they would like to go to a hybrid part home- and part office-based way of working - and only 12% wanted to return to full time work.

As these working patterns change and the shift towards remote working could become more permanent, it would explain why people are looking away from city living and instead, seeking quieter locations, nearer green space, fresh air.

This bustling market activity also goes to show how busy the property industry has been over recent weeks. One estate agent quoted in an article by the BBC said that "there weren't enough hours in the day" - even saying this had been the busiest they had been since the market peaked in 2007 as people look to move closer to family and away from big cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester.

We too have seen a huge demand for our services. Our conveyancing teams have never been busier - and we are also fighting delays beyond our control as teams work remotely, and government departments are either shut or running at reduced capacity. It means things like local and drainage searches are taking much longer, and other processes and paperwork could be held up.

If you are considering a house move, bear in mind you might experience busier services than usual. Prepare yourself for the eventuality that it might take longer than you are expecting and you may have to budget for extra things - particularly the stamp duty charge, in case you miss the deadline.

If you would like any further information, or advice relating to a property purchase, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.