2020 has been an interesting year in residential conveyancing for many different reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the key issues.
What’s driving the residential housing market at the moment?
During the first lockdown period, the future looked bleak for the property market because the process was immobilised by the government which caused concern and anxiety across the board.
However, once lockdown was lifted, it seemed everyone and their dog wanted to move. Why was this? There has been much speculation, but two factors stand out.
- The stamp duty incentive made a huge difference to the purse strings. (Stamp duty currently only applies on properties over £500,000 until 31 March 2021.)
- Our working lives have changed almost overnight. Our homes may have worked well for us pre-Covid. Things look very different now. Working from home is being actively encouraged by both government and employers. It looks likely that this trend will continue. Therefore, homes have to meet the needs of remote working as well as the needs of family members and family life – and many people are seeing that there is a conflict.
The availability of mortgages in the current climate
The property market is buoyant at the moment, but the longer term looks more uncertain. For this reason, mortgage companies are becoming ever more stringent with conditions and shortening the length of mortgage offers.
This means the same rule applies as it has always done. If you are stretching yourself too much, stay put and wait until you can afford to move with a comfortable amount of equity in the property you are purchasing.
Make sure you have a good financial advisor to talk through a five year plan with before committing yourself to further financial liability.
My advice is to be careful not to make a decision now which could impact your future in a negative way financially. We are not out of the woods yet and despite the tempting temporary stamp duty changes, job security must be one of the top considerations when looking at moving at the moment.
Why is it taking longer to conveyance a property?
It is undoubtedly taking longer to conveyance a property at the moment. This is because official systems have been put under a great deal of strain as a result in the change in working practices. Banks, building societies and government bodies, such as councils, the Land Registry and so on, have all struggled to maintain the same levels of service with staff working from home and reduced staffing numbers due to furlough. A great deal of patience has been required through the last four months. It will continue to be needed as we head towards the ever-popular time to move,