None of us could have predicted how 2020 would have turned out, and the ups and downs the property market has experienced as a result. From the first national lockdown causing Estate Agency branches to close their doors, the market boom as lockdown was lifted, and house price growth hitting a two and a half year high.
While there is still uncertainty heading into the New Year, iamproperty has analysed future trends, changes in consumer behaviour and market adaptations to share its five top predictions for the property market in 2021.
Ben Ridgway, iamproperty’s Group Managing Director, said:
Prediction 1: A fast start to the year but no escaping the unknowns
Peaks in activity experienced this year will continue into 2021 and there will be a mass rush ahead of the Stamp Duty holiday deadline, which the industry is already experiencing. It’s also expected that there’ll be economic growth post-vaccine and a return to a previously ‘normal’ level of consumer spending, helping to fuel continued activity across the market. While activity levels will remain high going into the New Year, it’s unknown how the likes of the Spring Budget, Brexit and adjustments to a post-Covid UK will impact the market. Looking at trends, we expect to see a slow-down of house price increases which spiked this year, and an increase in first-time buyers. This will primarily be amongst Generation Z, upsizing to own a home with an office space as people continue to work from home, and purchasing bigger homes to accommodate growing families.
Prediction 2: Growth in demand for virtual/remote experiences
Working from home will continue for office-based workers in particular, including agents too. I’d expect to see a shift in consumer behaviour from pre-Covid times, with people more open to doing things virtually. There’ll be increased reliance on video tours, images and floor plans to make shortlists at home, with prospective buyers viewing fewer properties in person and an increase in demand for virtual viewings. More offers will be made without second viewings, and there’ll be an increase in buyers purchasing ‘blind’, having seen information online only.
Prediction 3: An increased focus on technology
The adjustment to working from home and the market boom this year have put Estate Agents under increasing pressure. From our work with agents, we understand that they are busier day-to-day and are having to spend up to 15 hours a week on an evening or weekend catching up on admin (our research*). They’re looking for ways to save on the amount of admin tasks, cut the onboarding journey down, increase efficiencies and financial returns, all while providing a better client experience. More and more proptech players are entering the space to support faster Private Treaty transactions and a more seamless customer journey end to end, but agents also want to streamline the number of systems they are using and remove duplication of data. Suppliers that can offer this by doing more than one job or integrate with other systems will really hit the mark and deliver what agents need. It’s exactly what our movebutler platform offers, which is a solution we’ve been developing to tackle the issues that agents tell us first-hand that they are dealing with. We’re looking forward to its launch early in the New Year – it’s our biggest tech development to date!
Prediction 4: Growth in auction sales
The popularity of online and now virtual auctions has been steadily rising, fast-tracked by Covid taking traditionally in-room auctions online. Demand for auction spiked this year with growth across the whole category. One of the main factors being the increased need from consumers for fast and secure transactions as an impact of lifestyle changes due to the pandemic. Consumer education around auction is also increasing which will continue into 2021, aided by large portals like Zoopla expanding into the space and enabling member agents to offer the Modern Method of Auction (MMoA) to consumers. We’re already seeing consumers become increasingly frustrated with the increasing timeframe to sell and buy properties via the ‘traditional’ route, who are starting to look proactively for alternative methods like auction. The growth around consumer education is also helping to make misconceptions a thing of the past, as more people see auction as the modern and convenient way to buy and sell. One other impact of Covid which will further develop in the New Year is virtual auctions replacing ‘in room’, as many auction houses won’t go back to the ballroom in the same way as they did pre-Covid. There’ll be growth in bespoke online auctions as vendors want timescales that work for them rather than the auction houses.
Prediction 5: Increased focus on AML compliance and best practice
There will be increasing pressures to comply to regulations amongst Estate Agents and increased focus on the sector from HRMC, plus an increased focus on use of Unexplained Wealth Orders. Agents will need to seek education to make sure they are fully compliant. There will be a shift in agents seeking to modernise their old-paper ways and use technology to support them in managing their compliance journeys, for maximum efficiency and peace of mind. We’re already seeing this from an increase in users of our iamproperty compliance platform which does exactly this. These users will be the first to move across to our new movebutler platform. Another thing to look out for in this space and general industry practices in 2021 will be developments from the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA).
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