A look at the property market on Yorkshire Day

Back to news
A look at the property market on Yorkshire Day

On Yorkshire Day 12 months ago, the residential property market was in the midst of uncertainty with predictions seemingly everyday about the negative impact of Brexit with buyers and sellers alike adopting the stance “if in doubt, do nowt”! 
A year on and who would have predicted that the word Brexit is hardly ever mentioned, the market is incredibly active, houses are selling in competitive circumstances but yet viewings are taking place with all concerned wearing safety equipment and the letters PPE have become commonplace.
When you look back 6 months to the start of 2020, the year began with the UK coming out of the EU, and a new sense of optimism entered the market with estate agents across Yorkshire making positive predictions for the future. Then 23rd March arrived and lockdown. As with everything else, the residential property world ground to an immediate halt, there was no spring sales flurry, no agents advising owners to tidy their gardens, carry out property maintenance and de-clutter inside (although many did with time on their hands) and the word furlough also became common place. The market stalled with property website Zoopla estimating around 373,000 property transactions across the UK, with a total value of £82billion were put on hold due to the lockdown measures. Then in the middle of May, to the surprise of many, the housing market was given immediate permission to re-open and gradually some resemblance of normality has returned, albeit with strict health and safety protocols. So what is it like being in the midst of things now?
With great weather and an immediate burst of activity, you might have been forgiven for thinking that lockdown was a dream and why many consider late spring/early summer to be the best time for selling. Perhaps with a strong sense of relief, many owners who had talked of selling decided to put their homes on the market and an appetite on the part of others to move, but who remain hesitant. In some areas of Yorkshire, this is leading to a shortage of supply.
Estate agency doors may be closed and visits to them by appointment only, but this has not stopped viewings taking place with great gusto and there is clearly considerable enthusiasm for county living. My own agency specialises in selling out of town property. In one notable case in less than 4 weeks post lockdown, we have undertaken 58 individually accompanied viewings, complete with PPE, of a wonderful farmhouse to modernise near Harrogate that has subsequently gone to best offers. This has been closely followed by another property near Knaresborough with 37 accompanied viewings in 3 weeks and where again we are taking the sale to best offers. The sort of sales environment all sellers wish for and, in addition, we have had other sales agreed off market, ahead of going public as we call it. I know other agents are reporting similar strong demand and at present there are no signs things will change, notwithstanding the uncertain environment that might lie ahead in 2021.
So what is driving demand when there seems to be negative comment in the media almost on a daily basis? After the long term hesitancy generated by Brexit, coupled with the Covid lockdown, many are clearly taking the view they want to “get on” with their lives. Yes, interest rates remain low and are likely to remain as such. And yes, there is the natural cycle of home owners who trade up and down. Whatever the reason, even in these unusual times, perhaps the answer is very simple. There seems to be no shortage of enthusiasm for living in Gods own county. Enjoy Yorkshire Day.
Tim Waring FRICS is Head of Residential at Lister Haigh. Harrogate 01423 730700