As we approach the end of 2021, I am minded to reflect on the past twelve months, and how our experience in the wake of COVID-19 may affect the year ahead.
Emerging from the second lockdown back in Spring, the year has been rife with new challenges.
We have been conscious of an apprehension from our clients around the virus and the prospect of meeting face-to-face, which is near unavoidable within our industry. Like others, we have had to be sympathetic, adapting our process to minimise risk by limiting numbers on house viewings and adopting masks and gloves where appropriate. This is by no means a silver bullet, but the safety and trust of our clients, prospective or otherwise, remains paramount.
From an industry perspective, particularly towards the latter part of the year, we have noted an imbalance in the local market whereby the demand for homes in the Bath and Bradford-on-Avon area has outstripped supply.
Principally, we have witnessed a surge in buyers seeking to relocate from London (and the South East, more broadly) to the South West. Perhaps owing to the urban lockdown experience, this trend has accompanied a yearning for outdoor space, home offices and stunning views – apropos of the most searched items on Rightmove this year.
This westward migration has seen pricing in local properties that tick those boxes rise, as an already expensive market grows ever more buoyant.
Working from home has enabled London’s professionals to settle elsewhere and it’s not hard to see why Bath, and to a similar extent Bradford-on-Avon, have become such sought after destinations.Excellent travel links to London, a slew of reputable schools, easy access to the countryside and town centres packed with culture and activity have all added to the allure of the South West.
However, such conditions come complete with their own set of quirks to work through.
Managing vendor expectations within a rising market is notoriously difficult, and that has indeed been the case this year. With each newspaper on the stand commenting on how the housing market has ‘exploded’, it is perhaps understandable for a vendor to assume that their abode has followed suit. It is our job to delicately temper these notions, offering a realistic appraisal away from the media hyperbole.
And in some instances this has held true, with immaculate homes, on the premium end of the spectrum, seeing their value rise to a comparable level to that of the broader market (circa 13%).
Naturally, households presented in a lesser condition will not have kept pace. Navigating the disparity between expectation and reality in this instance, remains a tricky, and delicate, part of our role.
These difficulties notwithstanding, this has been a positive year for our business.
Bath and Bradford-on-Avon becoming major destinations amidst a global pandemic has taken us all by surprise. We have been busy, and we are grateful.
Looking ahead to 2022, one is minded to offer an outlook of sorts, yet tentative to do so whilst the environment remains so fluid. As a people, we now are all too aware of how quickly things can change.
What we can say is that supply remains short within the area, with Bath’s prices, in particular, being driven by the scarcity of its stock. There’s an expectation across our industry that interest rates will rise over the coming months, which will doubtless have an effect on the national market. But Bath’s status as a ‘destination’ relative to the limited supply of properties available will likely see it ring-fenced from any fallout.
If we could impart one piece of advice before we welcome the New Year, it would be simply to act now. If you’re looking to sell, there are a glut of buyers ready to engage, and whilst many consider the housing market to be seasonal, this has never been the case.
Assuming that the decision to sell has been made, then you need not wait until March. Move now, and you may yet reap the rewards of this unique and rambunctious market.
To close, we would like to thank our clients for their support throughout the year and wish you all, a restful and harmonious festive season.
We look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.