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West Country property market continues to power away

Sat 5 September 2020

There seems to be little let up in the demand for West Country property this summer, whether from buyers within the West Country, or from outside the region.

July was the best month for new sales that Stags had ever seen, and August followed suit, as one of the best months on record.

Why is this happening?

Initially we all felt it was due to the pent-up demand from the 2-month lock down. However, all our offices are reporting unprecedented levels of activity which show no sign calming down. 

The large reduction in the tax for merely moving house (SDLT) has made it cheaper for people to buy, giving a boost to the market. However, the main reason for the increase in the number of new sales (subject to contract) is due to the Covid-19 situation. It has had a marked effect on what people are considering for their future housing needs.

For example, people already living in this glorious part of the world are looking to move to a larger or smaller property with a garden/outside space within the West Country. A large number of people are also looking to move out of the West Country to be nearer their children and grandchildren who are living in other parts of the UK.

However, the largest number of transactions are to people moving to the West Country from other parts of the UK, particularly London and the Home Counties. Why are they buying down here? We are seeing a number of different reasons and here are a few of them;

  1. For those now working from home, rarely needing to go into the office, they realise they can work from Devon, just as well as they can from say, Surrey.
  2. For those who are retired they have realised they can live in a fabulous part of the UK, often with cheaper property prices. 
  3. Many people who were thinking of retiring to the West Country in the future, have brought forward their plans deciding to buy a property in 2020.
  4. If they have spare capital (which is not earning anything in the bank and have also seen the turbulence in the stock market this year) they see property as a safe haven for investment. Either to let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancies, but more importantly as a holiday home, whether to use for themselves or as a holiday letting business.
  5. Families also see the quality of life that can be enjoyed bringing up children in the West Country.

What problems are we experiencing at the current time?

The biggest problem now occurring is the process of actually legally acquiring the property. Due to so many staff involved in the sales process now working from home we believe this is causing delays. Local Searches are generally taking longer and there are also delays at the Land Registry. However, we are hearing from many solicitors that they are struggling to cope with the sheer number of transactions that are being sent to them by agents all over the region. Many firms have a shortage of staff and are finding it hard to recruit. Naturally there are concerns as to how long this busy market will continue for, so they perhaps feel it is not the best time to recruit.

Overall, however, there is great positive feel to the market which, at the moment, shows no sign of abating.

Simon Cooper, Senior Property Partner

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