Wed 10 Feb 2021
Over the last six months, the Stamford Property Market has been flourishing. As soon as an estate agent’s ‘For Sale’ board went up, neighbours would be checking out Rightmove to see the internal pictures and compare the asking price to their own home (go on, admit you do that too – every Stamford homeowner does!). Flabbergasted by optimistic asking price tags, those same Stamford homeowners stand open-mouthed to see a sold slip added to the board a few weeks later.
Property values in Stamford are 0.6 per cent higher than a year ago.
The newspapers are full of stories of this mini property market boom, which has been fuelled by the Stamp Duty Tax cut, which ends on the 31st March 2021. Not only has it pushed up values in Stamford, but it has also theoretically brought forward house moves from 2021 into 2020.
The most up-to-date transaction figures (i.e. the number of people moving home) endorse it too. In the UK, 137,200 property sales / transactions took place in December, the highest number of sales / transactions in December since 2006 (when it topped 149,200 transactions, only for it to fall to 32,700 transactions in December 2008 at the height of the Credit Crunch).
The exact figures from the Land Registry for Stamford won’t be available for another six weeks or so, yet in December 2019, 63 properties changed hands in Stamford. Looking at anecdotal evidence of For Sale board changes, my database and the portals, I believe we will end up around 85 to 95 Stamford property sales / transactions for December 2020.
So, how does all this compare to other years?
The number of UK transactions continued to be relatively stable between November 2019 and March 2020. That decreased by around half in April / May 2020 compared to April / May 2019, triggered by economic impacts relating to the public health restrictions introduced. Since the first lockdown was lifted in the late spring, sales / transactions have increased steadily upwards each month, mirroring the relaxing public health restrictions for the property market during the summer and autumn of 2020 and introducing Stamp Duty Tax holidays.
Before we all get the champagne corks flowing, what the December national figures (and the corresponding provisional Stamford stats) don’t tell us, is that April to December 2020 transactions ended the year 13.7 per cent down compared to April to December 2019 transactions — the lowest since 2012. Don’t get me wrong, 13.7 per cent is impressive given that we are in the middle of a recession and even more remarkable considering there was a 48.7 per cent fall in transactions in 2008 (compared to 2007) when the Credit Crunch hit.
The biggest question though is, how much of the urgency since the summer to buy property can be credited to:
· existing pent-up demand that built up in 2018/9 and was starting to be released in the ‘Boris Bounce’ in January / February 2020
· new demand from home workers looking for bigger properties
· people moving out of the big city centres
· the Stamp Duty Tax cut
— or a mixture of all four?
Nobody can categorically know whether the UK property market would have ricocheted as quickly without the Stamp Duty Tax cut.