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Estate agency was one of the few businesses to remain open after the first lockdown probably because the government recognised the importance to the economy of people wanting to buy, sell and rent property.

Although our doors remain locked and some of us have been  working from home, the rest are full time in our offices doing our best to protect each other, help customers and the local community as well as  reduce the spread of the virus. We have been carrying out  virtual valuations and tours prior to  socially-distanced, physical viewings. We are also trying to keep properties as clean and ventilated as possible while  wearing masks and washing our hands regularly.

After we were forced to close for two months last spring, pent-up demand and the stamp duty holiday generated record numbers of buyers, many of whom wanted to work from home and in greener surroundings.

As a result, the housing market finished the year with transactions at a 13 year high, mortgage approvals increasing at their fastest for 12 years and house prices at their highest in four years.

Finchley has been a particular beneficiary. The Evening Standard reported  just before Christmas that house prices had risen faster in our area   last year than any other London neighbourhood! Buyers were said to have been attracted by the ample supply of period housing, high quality schools, as well as excellent transport and leisure facilities.  

Nor do we expect much change now the government extended the stamp duty concession until the end of June and offered a guarantee for high loan-to-value mortgages.

Another good sign is that  nearly all of our sales arranged in the last few months of 2020 continued to completion without price re-negotiation.

An easing of lockdown, acceleration in the roll-out of the vaccine and better weather is encouraging new business too.

With restrictions continuing for a while at least, we are still likely to be in for a  bumpy ride this year but housing market activity will probably  once again confound the pessimists who predicted a price correction - just as it did last year.

We will continue to work hard support local people, try to stay safe as well as look forward to a hopefully healthier and less stressful rest of 2021!

Jeremy Leaf & Co.