We are now open, with all the agency team working full time from the George Street office. The new reality of living with Covid 19 sits with all of us but we have forgone the arrows and x marks across the office & trust our colleagues plus Clients natural instincts will keep them at a safe distance. Hand washing, sanitiser gels & regular sterile wipe downs of desk surfaces and door handles are now all part of the daily reality, the new normal. Viewings are finally now taking place and the apartment videos, available online, are proving especially popular in Lettings, helping interested parties short list their favourite properties and allowing some to make instant decisions.
It is too early to say where the various different markets are going. The much talked about pent up demand for lettings is surfacing, as I glance at our increasing lists on our deals agreed board. The lock down has highlighted for some the weaknesses of their current accommodation , be it small rooms ,lack of balconies or just the desire to not share accommodation with others. It has also flagged that value is more in demand than ever. As we stepped into the lock there were circa 1300 apartments vacant across the wider city core. These I believe now will be absorbed as many landlords have realised that they can find good tenants quickly if they adjust their rents downwards. Whilst this absorption takes place there is no pressure on rents across the market to rise. The number of enquiries received through the lock down period highlights that the demand for City living is still there.
The residential sales market is more complicated. Most developers are now back on site and there are some very good new build projects coming forward later the summer & through this autumn. We are receiving a steady stream of resale instructions but there is no feeling of pressure from vendors to sell. The key through the coming months will be the confidence of the banks for mortgage finance. The interest rates are just so tempting . I have seen rates of 1.5% guaranteed for the first two years being offered by several leading institutions. The lock down for some home owners has been a wake up call. A Birmingham skip operator has flagged how he has never been busier supplying his big yellow skips to domestic houses as small projects were being tackled, garages cleared, rooms redecorated & patios finally laid. For those in apartments the choice is more stark because whilst internal walls can often be moved, the desire for additional or differently arranged space can only be reached by moving and therefore I expect to see the re-emergence of good offers. The Virus has hit the hospitality sector very hard. Outside of this area many businesses will I sense steadily & quickly rebuild.
The commercial market is interesting, especially in this City fringe market where we work. There have been several deals agreed through the lock down period , be it ground floor retail in good positions or upper floor offices acquired by neighbours for expansion. The demand for accommodation has also flagged that those in suburban or near urban business parks are looking to into moving their accommodation more centrally, for reasons of retaining existing staff & securing new staff. This movement is on-going & well recorded. Many firms find it difficult to recruit whilst located in accommodation that away from the facilities of the City core. The pressure is often exaggerated as they start expanding and need more experienced or qualified staff members.
It is going to be an interesting few weeks and months ahead. I sense there are going to be some bigger Government incentives to speed up the recovery of the housing market because more than ever it is such an important sector in the economy
Watch this space!