The housing market is showing clear signs of a ‘London lift-off’, members of the NLA’s Sounding Board reported this week.
Knight Frank’s Stuart Baillie said in the Zoom session yesterday that hundreds of his colleagues had been returning to their High Street estate agencies and reported that things are ‘picking up again’, with ‘pent-up demand’ in both leasing and house buying coming from people who have been ‘perhaps stuck in accommodation that they have been looking to move on from, or to release capital for other things’. ‘That’s been really positive for our business, he told the group.
In terms of the way the firm is operating, the departments within the company such as planning are still working remotely, said Ballie, but a lot of his younger colleagues had particularly expressed that they were ‘desperately keen to return to the normality of office working’.
Marc Vlessing, founder and CEO of Pocket Living said he had a similar experience in terms of uptick in the residential sector. ‘There has been a real bounce after the opening of the markets’, he said. ‘We call it the London lift-off’.
Pocket has reserved more homes in the last fortnight than it has in the last two and a half months added Vlessing. ‘There’s a tremendous amount of pent-up demand and frankly anxiety from people in their late 20s and early 30s to get out of living with their parents, sharing with their friends and getting their foot on the property ladder.’
Vlessing added that an interesting internal survey across the 50 staff at his company had revealed that of its relatively young team (average age 31) 30% were ‘desperate to come back to work tomorrow’, 30% were ‘sitting on the fence’ on the issue and 30% were clear they didn’t want to return until there was a vaccine and you could travel safely on public transport. The first group tended to be the youngest, the second those with children and the third in their 40s and 50s and earning the highest salaries. ‘I think companies are going to have to get their heads around this inequality’, he said, noting that similar reports in bigger data pools were showing similar things in places like New York.
In what was a wide-ranging discussion, Yolande Barnes of the Bartlett added on this issue that ‘there was nothing like being locked inside you home to actually bring to the fore what housing is about’.
The views on an uptick in housing contrast with statistics on the number of homes sold during the first month of lockdown, which at 46,440 residential sales for April were less than half the number a year earlier, according to Revenue & Customs.
In the session, viewable here
, the Sounding Board also discussed matters including: the potential relaxation of planning use classes; the need to share information and do more ‘joined-up working’; to remember the pedestrian in widespread measures to improve cycling in the capital; the potential for high streets to be positively influenced by those working from home; the possibility of a loss of population from the city; and the extent to which measures being taken across the city were ‘knee-jerk’ or that issues and problems were merely being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and in applying that London is in danger of ‘wasting a crisis’.