Moving forward in unprecedented times

We are living in unprecedented times, and this is apparent across the residential market particularly in 2020 and currently Q1 of 2021.

At the start of the pandemic in Q2 of 2020, we saw a massive reduction in registered applicants and first-time buyers. This decrease created much uncertainty amongst families and individuals looking to move home. During H2 of 2020, we saw a significant upturn in interest from applicants and a considerably more buoyant market with the introduction of new Government measures and pent up demand to move. These factors played a part in generating unprecedented sales results in the second half of 2020, in conjunction with the new homes expertise and full-service support offered by Countrywide.

The number of people using Help to Buy Equity loans across England was 15,295 (H1 in 2020). Due to current market conditions brought about by the pandemic, this was considerably less than the same period in 2019, which was recorded as 25,318. Across Countrywide, H2 of 2020 presented a far more positive picture where we have seen our HTB performance increase by 36%.

Help to Buy has been particularly popular amongst first time buyers. This cohort accounts for over 80% of equity loans taken out with an average loan of £73,000. From 16th Dec 2020, Help to Buy is limited to FTB only and will be met by regional price caps. Across Countrywide, approximately 18% of our applicants are registered as FTB. This figure is higher than last year and our applicant numbers are also considerably higher.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced in July 2020 a Stamp Duty holiday until March 2021 allowing property purchases under £500,000 to be exempt from SDLT. There has been mounting pressure for this to be extended by six months with an online petition now reaching 125,000 signatures. Between weeks 26 and 29 of 2020, applicant activity increased by 40% and 29% across first time buyers and for the remainder of the year, Countrywide had 20% more applicants than in 2019.

The Countrywide new homes portfolio continues to grow at an impressive rate, with the team providing excellent national support to PLC’s, private and affordable housing. Despite extremely challenging times this year with COVID, the Countrywide new homes team have shown amazing resilience and demonstrated their industry expertise selling more than 3700 new homes per annum.

Registered applicant activity 2019, 2020 and 2021

Property trends for New Homes. Data from Rightmove