Estate Agents Call Pandemic ‘Blessing In Disguise’ Because Of Growing House Prices
An estate agency is facing backlash after calling the pandemic a ‘blessing in disguise’ because of growing house prices.
A news bulletin, published by JP & Brimelow, an agency in South Manchester, said that while there has been increased uncertainty around job stability and health, the ‘property market has actually fared very well’.
Titled ‘Has COVID been a blessing in disguise for Old Trafford and Chorlton?’, the bulletin credits Rishi Sunak’s move to increase the nil rate threshold for Stamp Duty from £125,000 to £500,000.
The agency said that as of September 2020, the average price of a detached home was £425,000. ‘This is 8.4% higher than in the same period a year before. Given the year we’ve had, the change is very impressive indeed,’ it said.
‘Straight to the recycling bin for this. Covid – thousands dead, millions more ill. But don’t worry, you’re house price has increased 8.4%. Truly a blessing in disguise,’ one person wrote on Facebook.
‘Chorlton estate agents looking on the bright side of a pandemic that has killed thousands of people in the North West,’ another tweeted.
‘This is beyond insensitive. How awful to gloat about profits whilst people are dying,’ another said.
In November 2020, property prices in the UK hit the highest level on record after surging by almost £4,000 in a month.
The Office of National Statistics said the surge may have been driven by demand that built up during lockdown as many put their house hunts on hold, as well as ‘possible changes in housing preferences’.
‘This was the moment the market really entered fifth gear this year, leaping from the doldrums into the jet stream with the full weight of lockdown and the stamp duty holiday behind it,’ Lucy Pendleton of estate agents James Pendleton told Landlord News.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients told BBC News that the pandemic had also led to several lifestyle changes, such as working from home, which had shifted buyer’s priorities.
Harris said buyers now require more space, both inside and outside, and are keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, which will remain in place until the end of March 2021.
‘Competitive mortgage rates show no sign of disappearing anytime soon, with lenders most notably returning to the 90% loan-to-value space, providing a further boost for first-time buyers,’ he said.
George Franks, co-founder of London-based estate agents Radstock Property, said the ‘Stamp Duty time limit is creating a false horizon which will see prices rise even higher in the first quarter of next year’.
‘After a strong first quarter of 2021, prices are likely to cool in the wake of the Stamp Duty deadline but could then start to increase again towards the end of the year,’ he predicted.
On Sunday January 24, a further 610 COVID-related deaths were reported in the UK, taking the total number of deaths to 97,939.
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