How has COVID-19 changed the way we view properties?

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2020 saw major changes in every aspect of daily life. Work patterns, lifestyles, consumer trends and travel expectations have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be. Some of these changes made may not revert immediately and others, such as working from home and on-line shopping, have been established as the ‘new normal’. Another major shift has been how prospective buyers view properties.

During the pandemic, the demand for property slowed, but did not falter. When social distancing measures were first introduced, Zoopla states that 400,000 house sales were placed on hold, as new health and safety procedures were quickly designed for use in the property market. How properties are now marketed is changing as much as the profile of the type of property being sought.

In recent months, both companies and individuals have been re-evaluating their property requirements. Many private buyers are now looking for properties with good-size gardens and flexible living space as ‘home’ needs to offer comfortable work areas and be suitable for home schooling and exercise, as well as being a place for relaxation and entertainment. Many buyers are now seeking properties in small market towns and community-led rural areas.

Companies are seeking open plan multi-functional spaces where social distancing is practical and there is adequate space for comfortable video conferencing.  Not only has the type of property changed, but the way in which properties are viewed. These are bringing major changes to the UK property market – ones that will be long here to stay. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/how-covid-19-might-change-the-way-we-live-and-work-for-good

Online Presence Is Essential

In recent years, more and more property companies, both in the UK and globally, have been developing their online presence and how they use technology to sell and rent properties. They have ensured that their sites are clear, well-designed with quality content and importantly, are continually updated. Digital and advanced analytic strategies are being used to target potential buyers and streamline many of the procedures for property purchase and rental.

The demand for a quality selection of interior and exterior photographs is high and prospective buyers want in-depth information about the property itself, its energy efficiency and locality. The importance of the photographs has become so great that a number of specialist companies are offering their services to ‘dress rooms’ for the photographs so that a certain character and lifestyle can be cleverly portrayed.

360º Tours Are Now the Normal Approach

Investment in property in many areas in the UK by international investors has remained steady, throughout the pandemic. The market in London and other cities has been suppressed because of international travel restrictions. For international buyers, 360º video tours are crucial as they are unable to travel to the UK to view properties in the conventional manner.

More and more British buyers are using digital marketing to help in their search for a suitable property. Prior to the pandemic, buyers found that viewing properties in this way was fast and effective and it meant that they could disregard many properties, without the need for a traditional house viewing. Since the start of the pandemic, adults have on average been online for at least 25% of their waking day, so many buyers are preferring to house hunt online as it is the safest method- even though traditional house viewings can be conducted following a strict procedure to protect both parties.

Innovative property companies have seized the challenging opportunities presented by COVID-19 and have invested heavily in cutting edge filming techniques that set them aside from their competitors. As well as offering 360º video tours on their website, the videos are being posted on social media for greater engagement with prospective buyers– sometimes up to 1200% (Qandor magazine Nov 2020).

Interactive Q and As

Some property companies have recently taken their virtual house viewing to a new level which is proving successful. They have found that not only is good film footage an essential marketing tool for portraying a property or development, but having a live video link between the house owner and potential buyer is a successful way for the two parties to discuss the property at length.

The Property Market Has Remained Buoyant

The main reason why the property market has remained buoyant throughout the pandemic is the Stamp Duty Holiday announced on 8 July 2020 by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor. In fact, in the months following the announcement, there was a mini property boom as house buyers took advantage of the tax break.

The Stamp Duty Holiday means a saving of up to £15,000 in Stamp Duty on a property that is the buyer’s main home if it is valued at £500,000 or less. Buyers purchasing main homes worth more than £500,001 but less than £925,000, are charged stamp duty on the amount in excess of £500,000 and at a rate of 5%. Any part of a purchase between £925,001 and £1.5 million is being taxed at a rate of 12%. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/01/how-will-the-coronavirus-affect-house-prices/

The Stamp Duty Holiday continues until 31 March, but those in the property market are optimistic that business will remain good during 2021, especially as the vaccination continues to be rolled out at an impressive speed and there is light at the end of the Coronavirus tunnel. March is traditionally the best month in the year to get houses listed as they usually sell faster and at a higher price than later in the year. For those planning to move house, House Buy Fast has an efficient and COVID friendly service that can offer you a quick sale with the popular ‘we buy any house‘ service.

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