Sam Cooke

Quick update…

According to the Housing Minister this weekend: “…the housing market will remain open throughout this period.”

We are therefore expecting to continue working as we have been over the last few months, with the same considered and careful precautions.

Sam Cooke


‘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.

Sam Cooke

The prognosis

We’ve been back a little over a week, and have pretty much caught up with everything from lockdown. Almost. Certainly by the end of this coming week we’ll be sorted.

In practical terms we can now do everything we used to do pre-covid-19. Obviously with 2m distancing, masks and so much hand cleaning it’s a wonder we have any skin left. If you want a valuation or viewing but are concerned over covid risk get in touch and we’ll explain how we do things.

In terms of how the market is going to go from here, it’s a little too early to tell, but early signs are that it’s going to pretty much pick up where it left off in March. That’s for sales. For lettings it never slowed down, we were able to let everything we advertised immediately from video tours.

The types of industry that dominate the Cambridge economy – pharmaceuticals, healthcare, education, software and other high-tech-boffin stuff – are unlikely to see huge redundancies or income drops, perhaps even the opposite and whilst there is no doubt that confidence in the market, and money in general, will be hit there will always be a large proportion of people that *need* to move. Cambridge is good for that. If your job is moving here from California or leaving here to Copenhagen you won’t be commuting it. We think volumes will drop, which is bad for us, but we’re expecting the ratio of buyers to sellers to remain similar, which should be good for the market. We’re currently working on agreeing a number of sales from the last week’s viewings where we have a choice of 3 or more buyers and competitive offers.

Whisper it, as it feels a bit indulgent being positive with the current horrors, but we may even find our numerous medical firms get busier and employ more people from all this.

Anecdotally most people that we speak to aren’t changing their general plans to move and during the lockdown period our fall-through rate (houses that were sale agreed that fell through due to buyer or sellers changing their mind) was actually significantly lower than it usually is.

It’s all conjecture at the moment, but if the media has taught us anything over the last 2 months it’s that the great British public just can’t get enough of constant, unrelenting, soul-withering conjecture.

In more personal news, we’re all well here at CC&C, thanks for asking. Some of us are working at home, some from the office and some yet to return to work but none of us is any more poorly than we usually are. We hope the same applies to you and yours.

Sam Cooke

A quick update

Well that was unexpected.

Estate agents, solicitors, surveyors and everyone else in the house-moving industry only found out about restrictions being lifted last night, the same as you.

We’re covering the phones and emails as usual today and will publish details this afternoon of how we’re going to be doing things to ensure safety for all.

We’re confident we can do that.

We have over 350 viewing requests that have come in over the last few weeks that we’re already working through this morning. If you’re one of them we’ll get to you as soon as we can.

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