Whilst house buyers may currently be cautious, all indications show that with lenders offering more and more products and interest rates so low, the popularity of new build homes continues to rise.
As lockdown restrictions start to ease, and housebuilders are once again opening sales offices and showhomes, Bloor Homes has seen a surge of activity across its developments. This reflects the recent reports from Rightmove that a new wave of buyers is now entering the market since before lockdown with record numbers of visitors to its site last week.
The Bloor Homes sales teams continued to engage with buyers throughout the lockdown period, booking virtual appointments and telephone and video calls for those looking to move. They saw reservations continue across the regions in which they operate. In the two weeks since reopening the sales offices, that activity has now risen sharply, despite the fact that the hours are reduced and only limited 1-2-1 appointments are available each day.
This renewed interest isn’t all that surprising given a recent survey from Zoopla saw 60% of prospective home movers say they intend to continue with their plans despite the impact of Covid-19. Add to this the number of mortgage products which are available is also rising and it appears that buying a new home is an increasingly attractive option.
“In recent weeks, we have seen the major lenders resume their physical valuations, comments Jack Costello of Bloor Homes. “If you add this to the fact that the major lenders are once again starting to offer Help to Buy mortgages and some deals offer interest rates below 1.5%, confidence in the new homes market is steadily growing as customers are offered more opportunities.
In contrast to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak when many lenders stopped offering products, particularly those requiring smaller deposits, first time buyers particularly were left with little choice.
However recently there has been a flurry of activity with some of the larger lenders immediately offering an increase in LTV (Loan to Value) of 85% and some new deals entering the market with 90%. This has been echoed by calls from the IMLA (Intermediary Mortgages Lenders Association) to the Government to review and ease restrictions that are on First Time Buyers in terms of affordability tests.
The post-COVID bounce as its termed saw buyer demand rise by 88% and Bloor Homes has seen activity at some of its developments return to pre-lockdown conditions, with the North West region reporting 16 sales in one week from a variety of buyers.
Jack Costello continues, “Many of our buyers have stayed in constant contact with us during lockdown, questioning when building will continue, or when the sales process can resume. We have seen buyers calling daily to secure appointments for the release of second phases at existing developments or launches of new sites.
It’s likely that enforced lockdown has made many people revaluate their living situations, prompting the decision to move to a new home or new area. A number of the enquiries that Bloor Homes has received have been from existing customers who are choosing to upsize or move to another development.
It will be a while before the market is anywhere near pre-Covid levels, with transactions still down and concerns remaining for a rise in unemployment and decline in economic growth. However, there is a definite optimism about the recovery.
With interest rates expected to remain low rate for the foreseeable future, Help to Buy available to first time buyers and second steppers, and a growing number of products available from mortgage lenders, Bloor Homes expects the recovery to continue – albeit slowly.
Jack Costello concludes, “The demand amongst buyers clearly remains, and as we slowly begin to resume our lives, finding a new and altered way of living, the new homes market will continue to grow. There is undoubtedly some way to go before we see any kind of stabilisation, but if recent activity is an indication, the appetite of home buyers will continue to drive the recovery.”