It has felt a bit like that in the last couple of weeks, since we re-opened our office on the 18th May.
There has been much speculation in the media about whether Covid19 and working from home would lead to many people fundamentally re-appraising their life style, location and property requirements. Suddenly, living in the City or a busy environment doesn’t feel quite so attractive compared to a more rural environment with cleaner air and a larger garden. Oh, and of course, a home office with decent broadband.
Whilst it is early days, our own experience here at a busy Trigg & Co office has been a noticeable increase in early stage enquiries from mainland buyers. The Island has been right in the news with the trial of the NHS Covid phone app and a far lower rate of virus infection and transmission than the surrounding areas of the south east and London. This publicity has certainly opened up many eyes to the attractions of island living. Even if a couple of our enquiries have started with some pretty basic questions, like ‘Where is the isle of Wight’ and ‘How do I get there?’ it is clear that the local property market is going to be affected by the virus pandemic.
Not everyone will welcome this of course. Part of the attraction of the island for some is that it has remained insulated from some of the less attractive aspects of modern life and suburban blight.
However, for island homeowners and movers, we expect this trend to lead to an increase in demand which inevitably will put upward pressure on house prices, which remain relatively low compared to other coastal markets and nearby towns.
The island market is quite complex both in location and price. Property sales over £1m are still relatively rare with just one or two each month recorded. The market for second homes has been steady, but impacted by the imposition of measures like the levy of full council tax on holiday homes and the popularity of overseas property. Holiday rentals have had a truly terrible 2020 so far with Covid 19 decimating rentals and bookings. Even though house prices are affordable by south east standards, many local buyers struggle to buy their first home or move up – and the levels of housing benefit claims on the Island are amongst some of the highest in the UK.
In our view, all of this means that the island market should remain steady as we emerge from the lockdown and demand from mainland buyers will increase. Top-end and second home sales will benefit, many of which will then naturally filter through into holiday lets over the summer months. Prices for good quality family houses with large gardens, rural aspect, space for a home office and improvement should see well above average rises. These will be in high demand in the Autumn and moving into 2021 as city dwellers and people relocating start to make their moves. If you already have one of these it may prove to have been your best ever decision to buy it.
What about divorces many people have asked us? Has the lockdown led to a surge in valuations for reasons of marital dis-harmony and break-up sales? Well so far, the answer seems to be no. Maybe that speaks volume about island life.
Demand for rental properties is very high so there is some evidence of lockdown forcing plans for grown up children to move out, couples to set up home and the odd couple splitting up for whom life in lockdown proved a bridge too far. However, so far we see a motivated and quite busy return to the market which looks positive for that V shaped recovery we all want to see.
As Will Rogers said in a couple of his many great quotes: “Don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate and wait.”
And even more to the point – “Find out where the people are going and buy the land before they get there”.
We are getting ready for a busy market ahead of us.