Published: 02/07/2020It is interesting because over the last 24 months there has been so much negative talk from the national media about the property market and how we will be suffering because of economic factors way above local climates.
In 2019 we were presented with Brexit and all the challenges of the ‘what if’s’ that came with that. In addition, we had the general election which again apparently meant that we could be in for a tough time.
What this did clearly say to us as a group, is that we live in a very robust county that seems to weather any national storm. In 2019 Sowerbys, as a group, sold more houses than ever before, which is an incredible achievement in itself but also sends a strong message and statement that Norfolk always seems to buck the trend.
As we entered 2020 the market started incredibly strongly; viewing levels at an all-time high and sales unusually for a January and February market started amazingly strongly. There was a real buzz in the market and we were preparing for another fantastic year. Clearly that was short lived, and we all know what happened next.
We had to close our office doors but retained staff across the group who did an amazing job holding the pipeline of sales together whilst dealing with general enquires. What was clear, throughout lockdown was that there was a continuous enquiry level, and this gathered real momentum throughout April and May.
It looked like there were a lot of lifestyle conversations being made, whereby people were looking to move from the cities by selling their main home in London or the home counties in particular and relocating to Norfolk. Instead of this being a ‘round the dinner table conversation’ it was becoming a reality and we were feeling this momentum.
Since we have re-opened our offices this enthusiasm for making big lifestyle changes has become a reality for many, and we have found ourselves in an incredible market, one that we have never seen before. The demographic of the buyer is very much based around the middle to top end of the market and these people are generally moving from large cities.
We have had a record breaking sales month in June and our teams are the busiest they have ever been. Comparing June 2019 to June 2020, we find ourselves over 50% up on sales and applicants registered are 28% up on last year. In spite of the governments restriction that only proceedable buyers can view property and with many people still not wishing to view, we are also up an incredible 22% on viewings. As a group we have agreed over £65 million worth of property sales in June alone. Finally, we are experiencing record web traffic with constant potential buyers looking to move.
There are plenty of buyers, but having enough sellers coming to the market is the key issue facing the property market. It is already apparent that a good stock of newly built homes is key to helping with the surge in demand. At the beginning of 2019 we undertook a review of how we sell new homes. We conducted a survey of all agents including ourselves and realised that the key to being effective for both the developer selling the homes and the buyers looking to purchase, was to genuinely sell new homes as a group, rather than via individual offices. Buyers looking for a new home will often look at multiple locations.
Over one year on we are now one of the few agents who are truly, effectively, selling new homes as a group. This is proving an invaluable support to the supply needed to feed the buyer activity, especially at the moment. We have large increases in the interest levels for all developments that we are selling, and we anticipate this will only increase over the coming months. There are a lot of general developments sites in Norfolk but the ones that are proving most successful are the ones where the developers have strong reputations for quality and are offering selective sites in village locations with homes finished to a high specification and quality standard.
In summary, presently we are experiencing unchartered markets, we are also acutely aware this might be a spike post lockdown and that things might quieten down as we head into the latter part of the year. But, that is a normal cycle of a property trend for markets to reduce as we head into October, November and December. There are of course unknowns – however, history says that Norfolk and the ‘magical’ coastline that we all enjoy, remains a robust market that can fend off any national crisis.
More than ever, Norfolk is an aspirational place for people to live, and we anticipate this activity to continue over the summer months of 2020 with a natural ‘calm down’ during the winter and a typical bounce back as we go into 2021.