It seems that finally we are slowly but surely getting back to something like reality. The sun is out today making everything look and feel better anyway. I am optimistic for a fantastic summer and even England won last night (just!).
Maybe that is the most normal thing of all? Watching England through your fingers expecting at any minute that the hopes of a country can be dashed with a dodgy back pass or a goalkeeping howler but eventually just scraping through to give everyone what undoubtedly will probably be false hope that football really is coming home. For now, though let’s just get behind the team and enjoy the ride.
As always there should be an air of caution with the England football team and the relaxing of restrictions but there is an air of optimism around that is truly joyous.
The thought of 45,000 people being at Wembley next week, Wimbledon starting, some music festivals being allowed to go ahead and more restrictions being eased by mid-July is quite exciting. The idea of meeting up with larger groups of friends, eating out or even a short break somewhere may seem quite alien after such a long time but it feels even sweeter after the break.
Understandably, the last thing that we may be allowed to do will be to travel abroad without restrictions. Whilst we have pushed ahead with our vaccine programme (even I, in my very tender years have been double jabbed), lots of other countries aren’t as far ahead in protecting their populations as we are so opening the borders would increase the risk of variants coming in greatly.
Whilst this is frustrating, we have decided to postpone our summer holiday for the second time, it is a small price to pay to avoid another lockdown later this year or ever for that matter. I have a friend who lives and is due to get married in Italy in August and the uncertainty about the trip is killing me. Will we even be allowed to go, if we can go will we have to isolate afterwards and what will happen if restrictions change whilst we are over there? Whilst I appreciate that people are desperate to get away on holiday or see friends and families that are abroad that they haven’t seen for 18 months or so for purely selfish reasons I wish a decision would be made on foreign travel that covers the whole of the summer sooner rather than later!
Whilst aspects of our lives return to normal one thing that hasn’t changed it seems is our appetite to move house. We in the property industry have been extremely fortunate that we have had very little impact from the lockdown and pandemic. We have worked pretty much continuously throughout and the appetite for property has definitely not abated. If anything since the full lockdown finished the demand for property has grown. We muddled through last year and considering everything it wasn’t too bad but 2021 has so far been exceptional. We have written as much business and sold as many houses in the first 6 months of this year as we did for the whole of 2020 and it doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.
We thought that after the first stamp duty holiday ended in March that things were going to quieten down a bit but the exemption for stamp duty was extended until the end of this month and things just kept going. Realistically though if people were expecting to agree a purchase on a property in April, May or June and get the transaction completed before the end of the stamp duty holiday then they are going to be disappointed and I don’t think that the saving of a few thousand pounds is the predominant thing driving the housing market currently.
As ever in Leigh, we have a great deal of demand and not enough stock. There are not enough properties coming to the market for waiting applicants. Also, people are looking for other things now. Houses with gardens are understandably the most popular properties that people want to purchase but the attraction of being close to the station is not quite as important as it once was. Also, what I describe as lifestyle properties are more difficult to sell now. Large seafront apartments that people used to lock up for 6 months of the year whilst they travelled the world, those people, of course, have not been able to do that or perhaps are not comfortable doing that in the future so those properties are not quite as attractive as they once were.
Personally, I believe that give it another couple of years and COVID will be a distant memory. I think that people will return to the office and work as they did before, commuting as normal. Foreign travel restrictions will be lifted and we will all return to full normality, the sun will always shine and we will all be happy.
As long as I can sit around a pool somewhere in the summer and go skiing in the winter and people continue to want to buy, sell or rent property at the rate they currently are then I will be happy.