What’s next for the housing market?

Published on 19 November 2020

Our special panel of experts look at how coronavirus has affected property sales

Kathryn Hill, Head of Residential Conveyancing at Burnetts
Kathryn Hill photo
Kevin Aitken, branch manager at The Cumberland
Kevin Aitken photo
Lynne Lancaster, Head of Estate Agency at PFK
Lynne Lancaster photo
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Tim Farron photo
How would you characterise the Cumbrian housing market at the moment?

I believe we are seeing a very high number of transactions going through due to the stamp duty holiday, but also lockdown has made people think about whether they have too much space, not enough outdoor space, ready to downsize or first time buyers being able to get on the property ladder.

Kathryn Hill photo
Kathryn Hill

There is a lot of demand for properties, and the demand appears to be outweighing the number of available properties. Because of this, we’ve seen a lot of houses going for more than the asking price.

Demand for mortgages has also been consistently high since May.

Kevin Aitken photo
Kevin Aitken

We have just seen a rapid increase in sales and prices after pent up demand from the first lockdown. As we move forward into the second lockdown the market has slowed a little as customers deliberate on how to move forward.

Lynne Lancaster photo
Lynne Lancaster

It remains a very polarised market. In my constituency here in the South Lakes, average house prices are ten times higher than the average household income meaning that those with plenty of money are easily able to get on the property ladder, and for everyone else it’s a massive struggle.

Tim Farron photo
Tim Farron
How have first time buyers fared in this market?

I think this is a good time for first time buyers. Lockdown has given those who are ready to get on the property ladder an opportunity to save up for a deposit. The more deposit the better the rates available on their mortgages. There have also been more first time buyer type properties available.

Kathryn Hill photo
Kathryn Hill

The biggest challenge has obviously been the deposit. Prior to Covid most lenders would accept 5 per cent. We’re still offering 10 per cent deposit mortgages, but most other lenders are looking for 15 per cent or more.

Kevin Aitken photo
Kevin Aitken

First Time Buyers who have saved good deposits and have their finance already sourced and in place are in a very strong position. However, increased activity from second home buyers and cash buyers wanting to invest into the property market have made it difficult for them.

Lynne Lancaster photo
Lynne Lancaster

Again it very much depends on how much money you’ve got. Without the help of the bank of mum and dad, even those on reasonable incomes are finding it difficult to afford to own their own home.

Tim Farron photo
Tim Farron
The Government says it wants to see millions more first time buyers. What could it be doing to help that happen?

There needs to be more affordable housing for first time buyers, perhaps incentives for developers to build more low cost homes and good rates available on first time buyer mortgages. The Help to Buy ISA has been a really good savings scheme - if they opened this back up, it would help too.

Kathryn Hill photo
Kathryn Hill

I think they need to see how they can work with lenders to be able to offer higher loan-to-value mortgages, because that is what is holding a lot of first-time buyers back.

More housing developments will also help to widen the market, and more affordable housing would attract additional buyers.

Kevin Aitken photo
Kevin Aitken

The Government should abolish all Stamp Duty costs for First Time Buyers and offer some sort of assisted package in relation to their first purchase.

I also believe the government, lenders and estate agents should be educating First Time Buyers better on the market, how to prepare and move forward.

Lynne Lancaster photo
Lynne Lancaster

Here in the South Lakes they urgently need to prevent the leakage of local homes becoming second homes. They must also ensure the building of more affordable homes for local families. Sadly their current plans will do the opposite.

Tim Farron photo
Tim Farron
What piece of advice would you give to somebody looking to get their first home in 2021?

Build up your funds to have the largest deposit you can; check and deal with any issues to do with your credit reference now and shop around for a good deal on a mortgage. Also use a local reputable firm of solicitors for your purchase so they can guide you through the process.

Kathryn Hill photo
Kathryn Hill

Have a chat with one of our mortgage advisers. Knowing what you borrow and how much it will cost you each month puts you in a much stronger purchase position.

Talking to someone locally will help you to understand how things are in the area you’re looking to buy.

Kevin Aitken photo
Kevin Aitken

Speak to lenders first and agents early on, and have a solicitor in mind to do your conveyance when offering - if you can show you have a deposit, lending in place and a conveyancer on standby it puts you in a strong position.

Lynne Lancaster photo
Lynne Lancaster

Nobody knows how long this pandemic will last. However I think it’s safe to say that the ability to work and study from home will remain important for a long time to come, so finding a house with a good broadband connection is absolutely essential and must be a priority.

Tim Farron photo
Tim Farron