It seems as though fears for the UK property market during the early stages of the pandemic may have been premature. Research from Hamptons reports that over 6,000 first-time buyers spent over £1million on their first home in 2020 - which is double the figure from the previous year.
What happened to the property market during the pandemic?
Back in early 2020, when coronavirus reached the UK and as the number of cases increased, there was a definite concern for the property market and how it would fare throughout the pandemic. Lockdown was in full effect and house viewings had almost come to a halt. In fact, figures from HMRC report that UK property purchases in April 2020 drastically dropped to a little over 42,000, compared to almost 94,000 the month before.
As July crept closer and as plans were put in place to begin reducing lockdown restrictions, the government acted quickly in an attempt to revive the property market. The stamp duty holiday was introduced after a long and dreary lockdown, at a time when savers were desperate to find a place of their own. For many, escaping inner-city locations was also a major short-term priority.
These factors, alongside lower mortgage rates and growing trends around working from home, spurred savers on to take the plunge and buy a house. Month after month, the number of property purchases increased, reaching a peak of 183,000 sales in March this year.
When Hamptons looked back at property sales during 2020, their research uncovered that around 6,093 (one in every fifty) first-time buyers spent £1million or more on their property purchase. These purchases were more common in areas such as Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Sevenoaks. The data shows that these significant first-time purchases were made by individuals from various age groups, typically those who had dreams of leaving the capital and other city centres, in favour of more peaceful, rural locations.
The company’s research also reported that a further 7% of first-time buyer property purchases were valued at £500,000 or more, up from 4% in 2019 and 0% five years ago. In London alone, the rate was a staggering 33%.
Peter Flavel, Chief Executive of Coutts, stated that he has also seen a similar trend amongst his own clients.
"A lot of them are looking at their homes thinking about whether they match up to their lives today."
"Our clients have found that their homes have increasingly had to become school rooms, workplaces and social spaces. It's not surprising that they've been looking for more space."
All of this, along with the overall average first-time property purchase increasing year on year over the past few years (for example, from £253,700 in 2020 to £255,260 in 2021), could suggest that the UK property market is very much alive.
The conveyancing process explained, for first-time buyers
If you’re a first-time buyer trying to get a sense for the current market, you’re not alone. Your first step onto the property ladder can be daunting at the best of times - throw a pandemic into the mix and it’s natural to have further questions and concerns.
That’s where we can help. As specialist conveyancing solicitors, we can offer expert advice and guidance when you find a property that catches your eye. It’s clear to see that the market is very hot right now, so it pays to have a solicitor at the ready for when your dream property makes an appearance on the market.
When you instruct our team to work on securing your property purchase, we will work with the seller’s solicitors to ensure all of the relevant paperwork is to standard and without issue. We will regularly update you with our progress throughout this stage of purchase, including when we raise any concerns or enquiries with the other solicitors.
From there, we will have local searches carried out on your behalf. These searches will uncover any future development projects set to take place, as well as an overview of water, drainage and environmental factors. Any issues found from these searches will be highlighted and detailed in the report we provide you.
Once all concerns have been rectified and you’re happy to proceed, we will organise all documentation and brief you on everything before setting up the exchange of contracts. At this point in the process, you will be required to send your house deposit to the seller through us.
Between exchange and completion, we will work with you to ensure any balance of money required is set up and ready to be transferred to the seller’s solicitors on the final day of the process.
Speak to our conveyancing solicitors about your first property purchase
For more information about our specialist services for first-time buyers, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of residential conveyancing solicitors. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the property buying process or our previous work and what we can offer you.
House buying is a complex process and even more so during COVID-19. With a team like our own supporting you with every step of the conveyancing process, you can look ahead to securing your chosen property with confidence and ease.
If you would like to speak to a member of our conveyancing team, please do not hesitate to get in touch: