Sun 01 Nov 2020
Lockdown 2 in England is now in play and is provisionally set to end on December 2. It’s been introduced to reduce the number of Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths after a worrying rise in recent times.
Although pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment/leisure venues have all now been forced to close for four weeks, the property market has this time been allowed to remain open, to the relief of buyers and sellers across the country.
Unlike the first lockdown, when the market closed for seven weeks, the government confirmed that people can still buy, sell and move home during Lockdown 2, assuming all health and safety guidelines surrounding coronavirus are kept to at all times.
The official guidance from the government, released a few days after the national lockdown was announced, revealed that people can carry out any of the following activities in connection with the purchase or sale of a residential property:
· visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
· viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent;
· preparing a residential property to move in;
· moving house;
· or visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.
The market remaining open is, of course, great news, and also means the momentum that has been sustained since the first lockdown was lifted can continue. As we head towards Christmas, the market remains highly buoyant, supercharged by the stamp duty holiday.
Recent findings from agent trade body NAEA Propertymark found that demand from buyers had reached a 16-year high, while Zoopla’s latest index showed that there were 140,000 more buyers reaching completion in October 2020 than at the same point last year.
As mentioned, the boom is being driven by the stamp duty holiday, and the need to act quickly to take advantage of it, but also by changing priorities, record low interest rates and a competitive mortgage market. For buyers and sellers, the incentives to move home have rarely been higher.
Changing priorities is the key one for sellers to bear in mind. No longer is proximity to great transport links or being close to the city centre a must-have for buyers, while parking space has also become less important. By contrast, the desire for a garden and good-quality office space has soared in the last eight or nine months.
A big chunk of the population is now working from home – and, during Lockdown 2, this number will have gone back up again as people stop making those occasional visits to the office which became more common during the summer.
Since late September, the government’s advice has been for people to work from home if they can. And, throughout the pandemic, various surveys have revealed that comfortable workspace in a home is now a must.
Below, we look at the importance of home office space if you’re selling and what you can do to ensure it’s presented in the best possible manner.
Remote working booms
First, it’s important to understand why a home office is now so important. During the height of the first lockdown, almost half (46.6%) of the UK adult working population was doing some work from home. Commuter towns in Kent and elsewhere suddenly no longer lived up to that name, as people ditched the commute and worked from home instead. This gave a boost to the local economy of these areas as people shopped, dined (when it was allowed) and spent money in their local area.
The figures for the number of people working from home are currently up hugely on the numbers seen this time last year.
After the government reintroduced its work from home if you can mantra, the number of people working exclusively from home – which had begun to fall as some offices and workplaces reopened – rose again from 21% to 24%, or nearly a quarter of the population.
Additionally, there is the 16% of people to factor in who are neither working from home nor at their workplace, including those who have been furloughed.
The number of people exclusively working remotely reached a peak of 38% in mid-June, but the statistics were only collected from the middle of May so missed out nearly two months of lockdown. In all reality, this number was probably much higher in March and April.
With Lockdown 2 now underway, the proportion of people working remotely has almost certainly risen again, although it may not hit the heights of the first shutdown. Workplaces, including estate agent offices, are staying open this time when that wasn’t the case first time around.
Still, the pandemic has almost certainly led to a long-term, permanent shift in the way we all work. Some people will want to continue to work from home exclusively even after the pandemic, while others will be looking for something more flexible. The days of the 9-5, Monday to Friday, in the office, already seem outdated. Many companies, some of them big names, have said they won’t be rushing people back. While many businesses are considering doing away with expensive office space entirely.
This, of course, heightens the need for high-quality office space in a home, which is now a necessity not a nice-to-have.
Savills research recently confirmed buyers’ changing wants, with homeworking space a top must-have while social distancing remains in play. The property consultancy revealed that buyers are placing much bigger importance on home offices and speedier internet connections, with 57% and 48% of buyers, respectively, considering a separate space to work at home and good internet as more important than was the case pre-pandemic.
The firm also believes that, even when social distancing is no longer required, or can be more relaxed, space to work at home will be required as the desire for people to work at home for some of the week will remain high.
Showing off your office space (or creating some)
If your home already has a dedicated home office, be sure to place this front and centre of your sales pitch. When it comes to virtual viewings and then the in-person viewings that follow, ensure that you flaunt your office space as much as possible.
If you don’t already have such space, don’t panic. Consider creating one – a fast, easy, relatively cheap task. A desk, office chair and lamp (bought new or freecycled) and some house plants could help to dramatically transform a spare room.
Similarly, you may want to turn your garage or shed into a workspace, if at present it has no real function. But you need to ensure this space is well-insulated, otherwise working here in the winter months will be far less appealing.
If you need to sell quickly, and don’t have the time to create office space from scratch, you can still point purchasers to any spare areas in your home that could easily be converted.
With so many more people working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, office space is now a necessity rather than a luxury for many.
If you can provide some, or point out where some could be created, your chances of selling will he high. Plus, of course, now is still a good time to sell, despite the nationwide restrictions. You just need to ensure everything is carried out in a Covid-compliant, sensible and pragmatic manner.
That’s where a reliable, local estate agent can help. Here at Eden Estates, we cover some of Kent’s most popular towns and villages.
For more information about selling your home at this current time, please get in touch with us today. Additionally, we provide a free and instant online valuation so you can find out how much your home could be worth on the current market.