Peak Summer

Published: 24/08/2021 By Tam van Wyk

We may be in peak summer but the torrential rain suggests the weather gods have other ideas. Even though the sun is now due to make an appearance, the truth is, after a good year or two, we seem to have forgotten the more usual pattern of washout summers.

There have, however, been some more welcome returns to normality.  On the 19th of July, the majority of our Covid restrictions were lifted and some of the travel rules were also eased, especially for those who were double jabbed. For the travel, sport, music and entertainment world it was a huge relief and it is also bringing some significant changes to the property industry. We have been talking for some time about the return to our city centres and now that process is showing real signs of accelerating. During the height of the lockdown, people wanted more space. There was no need to worry about the commute because you could work from home and, for that, you needed room for an office. Often that meant moving a long way out of town.

For young people, the lure of the bright lights faded as clubs and bars closed. Now, those lights are back on and with many of us desperate to revive our social lives, they are shining brighter than ever. At the same time, both the government and businesses are starting to put serious pressure on us to get back to the office and the realities of a long and expensive daily commute are beginning to dawn on those who had traded in their city homes.

At the height of lockdown, prices and demand in the capital sagged while they soared outside it. Now that process is starting to go into reverse. Rentals are the most mobile sector of the housing market. Tenants are able to react more quickly to change than homeowners and so that is where the changes are being felt first (although sales are not far behind). For students, the return to face to face learning is leading to a surge in demand in the capital from both UK based and overseas students (who can now travel more freely) as they search for digs for the coming academic year. Young professionals, unsurprisingly, are some of the keenest to get back to the city and demand from them has grown substantially. More will follow and prices will rise, making up for any lost ground.

There is no doubt, post-September, when the second tier of the stamp duty holiday comes to an end and most students are safely in their new homes, the market will settle down to more normal levels of activity. Our ever-changing property priorities, though, will ensure demand remains in healthy territory for some time to come.