‘Unprecedented’ is so over-used now it’s boring, ‘furlough’ was fun for a while, but I’ve recently been looking for a new buzzword and I think I’m going for ‘pent-up’. And before you start, this isn’t Scrabble or Countdown so I am actually allowed it, hyphen and all.
June 2020 was Cooke Curtis & Co’s busiest month since we opened.
Lettings has generally continued as normal for us, even through lockdown. New tenants were happy to take tenancies on the back of one of our fabulous new video viewings (buzzword: Gimbal). But sales came to such an abrupt stop we all went straight over the handlebars into a crumpled heap on the house-sale-cycleway. Then just as we were dusting ourselves off and counting our lost teeth we, with no more than 12 hours’ warning, were allowed to reopen at the end of May.
It wasn’t unexpected of course, we knew we’d be reopening at some point, so we’d already shifted stuff around to put 2m between workstations, bought masks and sanitiser galore and decided who would come back to the office and who would work from home, but we’d have liked a bit more notice. And so we returned to work, nervous of whether or not the phone would ring. But it rang. Boy did it ring. And buyers weren’t in the mood for waiting, even for a day, to get out there and view things.
Pre-covid-19 we were agreeing an average of about 25 sales a month. 30 was a pretty good month for us. In June 2020 we agreed 44 (we don’t like to brag, but according to Rightmove that was more than any other local estate agent office). It was busy. Really busy.
It’s all than pent-up activity, you see, unpenting* itself.
The question is what will happen from here. What will happen when all these post-furlough redundancies come through? The media are predicting a grim autumn for the UK. We know there will be job losses, certain industries and areas will suffer horribly, but how many will there be round here? One of our biggest employers Astra Zeneca have just got a billion or so from various governments for a vaccine they don’t seem to have invented yet. Gilead were in the news yesterday as having sold $200,000,000 worth of their covid-helping drug to Donald Trump alone. Huawei are set to drop £400,000,000 on a new facility on the old Spicers site in Sawston so we can all experience our memes in super-5G-o-rama.
I had a phone call last week from someone who was made redundant from their job in Surrey and was deciding, three weeks later, which of 3 job offers in Cambridge they were going to accept. They won’t be commuting that. They’ll be moving here.
That’s not to say we’re expecting to sell 44 houses a month from here, I fully expect we won’t, but we are expecting a steady, sensible continuation of housing transactions. Buyers aren’t going to be silly and over pay for things but I confidently predict that sensibly priced, well marketed houses will continue to find buyers and those that want to move house will be fully able to if they are realistic. That’s what happened in 2008 – 2010, transaction numbers slowed but Cambridge prices didn’t drop they just held.
Consider too just how affordable mortgages currently are. A two-bed starter home in Cherry Hinton may sound expensive at £300,000, but with mortgages now available at 1.4% a 90% mortgage (yes, you can get them, mortgage companies have been holding back because they don’t have enough staff to cope with the applications, but that’s already changing) will set you back £315 a month in interest. To rent the same house would be about £1100 a month and you can’t even put up shelves. Obviously the costs of buying and selling mean letting is the sensible short-term option, but for medium- or long-term occupation buying something to call your own remains the answer in the UK.
All of this positivity isn’t to ignore what’s happening. This disease will, without doubt, further worsen the wealth gap and will continue to cause misery and suffering way beyond its biological impact. All I’m saying is that if you live round here and feel that moving house is the right thing for you to do in your circumstances, go ahead and do it. Now is as good a time as any. In fact it’s potentially a bit easier and less stressful now. Those video viewings I mentioned are saving both us and sellers no end of time, they’ve cut our viewings-to-sales ratio clean in half, and if you’re a buyer you can be sure anyone who puts their house on the market now is deadly serious about selling.
Give us a ring. We’ll present you with a realistic picture of what you can get for your place, what you’ll have to pay for the next one and how we can everything done for you safely.