Press Round Up January 2021
The stamp duty holiday should be extended so that buyers don’t miss out on savings because of the latest national lockdown. Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Sales could be affected, particularly if surveyors and valuers are once again reluctant or find it impossible to visit properties. Worse still, if lenders feel obliged to adjust valuations to reflect the new circumstances, this could result in sometimes painful renegotiation of previously-agreed terms.’ He expanded on this further in The Evening Standard: 'The Chancellor should seriously consider extending the stamp duty holiday. Those who have moved heaven and earth to meet the deadline should not now be penalised if they miss it through no fault of their own.'
House prices may have hit a record high at the end of 2020, according to the Halifax, but it appears as though buyer demand is starting to taper off. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Express: 'Not surprisingly, the pace of house price rises started to slow in December, which is exactly what we found in our offices, as home movers were deterred by further lockdown restrictions and seasonal distractions. However, we recorded very few abortive sales, other than when chains had broken down or prices were renegotiated in response to reduced activity.’
With people desiring more space since lockdown, is there more value in adding an extension or doing a loft conversion? Jeremy Leaf told This is Money: ‘Be clear about your motivations behind doing the work before commencing. A loft conversion will give an extra bedroom, while an extension usually provides extra living space, so they are not the same thing at all. Be wary about creating a top-heavy house where too many bedrooms do not complement the number of reception rooms. If you have a three-bedroom house with an intercommunicating reception room, then adding another bedroom to appeal to a larger family may render the living space as insufficient.'
Be wary of using online resources when trying to work out how much your property is worth. Jeremy Leaf told The Times: ‘Although access to plentiful online information is easy, it can be risky to place undue reliance on websites or portals. Online advice on pricing may be more useful for a flat or house in a development of many similar properties, when the going rate has been established and it is difficult to change it.'
Property asking prices have started to fall, according to the latest Rightmove survey. Jeremy Leaf told This is Money: ‘A relatively strong property market is likely to prevail even if the stamp duty deadline is maintained, albeit not at the same crazy pace of the last few months. This is mainly because so many people brought forward their moving decisions in order to take advantage of the concession.'