Estate agency disruptor gives his assessment of the current housing market

Property & Construction | South West
Neil Urch

Estate agency veteran Neil Urch launched House Fox in 2018 – find out more here – to give a fresh perspective on the business of buying and selling homes. In the short space of time since Neil launched the business, it has grown month on month as it shakes up the traditional model of estate agency. 

Here, for BLM he gives his views on how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting his industry. 

Well, what strange times we are in. As an estate agent with over 30 years’ experience, I have never known a market like this, having worked in the crash of 1987/1988 when interest rates rose to over 15%, and then working through the economic crash of 2007/2008.

I thought I would be prepared for anything. But a virus and lockdown, which means we are not allowed to do face to face valuations, and viewings, is a new one.

But at House Fox estate agents we have taken this as a challenge and thought how can we continue to help sellers and buyers?

Interestingly, it really has brought the agent and seller closer together, working as a team to get properties on to the market. This collaboration is seeing the seller taking their own photographs and videos, and with the help of House Fox’s professional photographer, we’re able to produce very good images and still market properties to prospective buyers.

Has the market stayed busy? 

Well yes is the answer, during lockdown House Fox have amassed over 60 people wanting to view houses as soon as they can, which shows us that confidence is still there.

People ask me my thoughts on the market, will house prices drop, is the first question, and my answer is, why should they?

We have the lowest interest rates of all time, more buyers than properties, high rents, and prior to Covid-19, January, February, and early March figures showed it was the busiest start to a year, for nearly 10 years.

So what if they were to drop by 3% which some experts predict? 

Well, look at this example. You buy a home for £250,000, and it drops to £237,500, but you’re paying rent of £900 a month for a similar property, at the end of the year you have lost £7,500 on your home, but given a landlord £10,800.

So you are still winning, and don’t forget, you will have paid off some of your mortgage, so your even better off, and you own a property.

Then to give you an actual example, I paid £155,000 for a property in 2007, it dropped to £140,000 within the following 18 months, the economy recovered very quickly, and it has now been valued at £255,000, I had also paid off around £20,000/£25,000 of the mortgage, rather than giving a landlord £124,000, yes £124,000 in rent (if I paid £800 a month) for those 13 years.

Bricks and mortar remain a sound investment and economic downturns are cyclical. Yes, this is a completely new scenario but the market will recover and we can assume that normality will return.

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