BREAKING NEWS – 5 top stories 06/01/2020
ONE IN FIFTY INFECTED BY COVID-19
With the head-line analytics that one in fifty are now infected with Covid-19, a large schism is appearing between agents who want to open with ‘safeguards’ and agents who want a blanket closure policy. With over 1.1M having the disease and one in 30 in London said to be infected, 2021 is proving to be a difficult year already.
Clearly no agent wants to stop working, but having now had over 700 agents contact me, there are a lot of agents in both camps. Some saying that off the back of three-years of Brexit gridlock and then 2020 and the pandemic, to close for six weeks would be the end of their business. Other agents point to the essential processes around their lettings businesses and want to know how to safely continue with these.
What is clear is that ‘physical viewings’ are seen as the big risk to the agency teams and the general public, followed by should agents work from home until mid-February?
100,000 MORTGAGE APPLICATIONS SURGE AHEAD OF SDLT DEADLINE
Figures just in show that November 2020 was the month that mortgage approvals had risen at their fastest rate for over twelve years, with over 104,000 homebuyers being given the thumbs up for property finance.
Though obviously fuelled by the approaching 31st of March SDLT deadline, what is significant is that financial pundits had anticipated a likely figure of around 80,000 for new mortgage business in November so a big 20%+ uptick.
SDLT HOLIDAY – SHOULD IT EXTENDED
Many are still calling for the Chancellor to extend past the 31st of March, and ease the bottleneck of sales that now sit in the twilight zone, waiting to get to exchange and completion.
A serious overhaul of how the post sold subject to contract process is driven might be a better way forward, then putting a sticking plaster over this situation, time to move conveyancing into the 2020’s, unplug the Fax machine and utilise modern office technology, this alone would speed the process considerably.
WILL 2021 SEE THE DREADED £250BN ONE OFF WEALTH TAX?
Last November there was a muted response to a think tank’s view that the Chancellor should consider raiding the piggy banks of investment buyers who had second or more properties. In effect a windfall tax soaking the rich, the LSE spearheaded thinking may come to something in Rishi’s upcoming budget, we shall see.
KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY – ACROSS THE POND THINKING
In a published report by the NAR (National Association of Realtors) and I must acknowledge an interest here as I am a 2020 Cohort Mentor for REACH UK – the commercial arm of the NAR, ‘46% of all firms (estate agencies) cited keeping up with technology as being one of the biggest challenges in the next two-years’.
With my other day job dealing with this vertical, I also experience increasingly many estate agency CEO’s contacting me, looking to de-risk their organisations, looking for the best digital way forward.
The good news is that the amount of digital solutions that are being worked on by proptech companies, and I have meetings with around 30 new founders every month, is that second to New York, London has the biggest proptech community in the world. So post Brexit and post pandemic – whenever that is my hope is that UK agents will push forward as the raw ingredients for economic prosperity are definitely here.
If you have a view – please let us all know by emailing me at [email protected] – Andrew Stanton Executive Editor – moving property and proptech forward.