Category Archive: Residential

Momentum in the property market

The UK housing market started autumn with momentum following a post-lockdown mini-boom making summer 2020 busier than usual. This is according to Member of The Guild of Property Professionals, Melissa Lines of George F. White, who says that the housing market has basked in summer sunshine since it reopened.

Click here to view the latest North East regional property report.

“Buyer demand has soared, with sales agreed up 50% on October last year according to Rightmove, while supply to the marketplace is at its highest level since March 2008. Over 98,010 property sales were recorded in September, which is up 21.3% on August, with competition in the market-leading to one in eight properties selling at or above the asking price. Larger properties and those with gardens are proving immensely popular, with the impact of COVID-19 set to have a lasting change on our home and work lifestyles,” says Lines.

She adds that both the economy and consumer confidence have both shown signs of improvement throughout the last quarter. The economy grew by 1.1% in September (ONS), however, it remains over 8.2% lower than pre-lockdown, while consumer sentiment continues to rise, albeit slowly. Recovery remains cautious as the government grapples with balancing the economy and public health. Stamp duty holidays across the nations offer a saving for many buyers, however, while interest rates remain low, a reduction in high loan-to-value lending products is impacting first-time buyers,” Melissa comments.

She continues that properties are selling quicker than they did a year ago, and the latest UK house price growth is at its highest level in over two years and revised forecasts anticipate property prices will end the year 7% higher, a significant reversal to the negative expectations anticipated as the market reopened. Interest rates are predicted to be held at 0.1% until 2022.

In the lettings market, as with the sales sector, demand for rental property increased over the summer, although new instructions remain muted, a continuation of the pre-lockdown trend. Average rental values across the UK rose by 1.5% in the year to August, and yields remain attractive. Increased demand and a shortage of supply in many areas should help underpin rental values over the coming months. Just 13% of tenancies expire during the final quarter of the year but landlords will be keen to avoid unnecessary void periods.

Melissa Lines adds that property prices in the region saw an increase of up to 5.6% in part of the North East since the housing market reopened in June. Activity across the market has been brisk, nationally the average time taken to sell a property fell to a record low of 49 days in October (Rightmove). “Sensible pricing remains crucial, as correctly priced properties are nearly twice as likely to be sold ‘subject to contract’ within four months of listing than those that have had their asking price reduced.

Even during the current lockdown activity levels have remained buoyant as both buyers and sellers see the opportunity to save money by ‘beating’ the Stamp Duty Holiday deadline at the end of March 2021.

There may well be a brief lull at Christmas as families take respite from what 2020 has thrown at us all but George F. White believes that January will see the market return strongly as consumer confidence returns and the wider economy continues its bounce back from the pandemic induced slump.

Call 0333 920 2220 for property advice or to arrange your free property valuation.

The Future of the Property Market


2020 has been a year of uncertainty in many ways and that includes those in the property market. Whether you are buying or selling your home, a residential or commercial landlord or your interests lie within the rural sector you will no doubt be considering what lies ahead for the property market.

Join our panel of experts at 4:00pm on Wednesday 9th December as they share their thoughts on the future of the property market. For more details and to register click here.



Work from home – blip or trend?

Data from a leading property portal Rightmove suggests that homebuyers are looking to escape the urban environment, leaving the crowded cities and big towns behind and moving to the country or the coast.

The current pandemic has resulted in more people working from home, a forced shift during lockdown which has made both businesses and individuals reassess what was perceived as ‘the norm’.

The data indicates that searches have doubled for homes in small towns and villages with populations less than 11,000 and coastal locations have seen the biggest rise in sales, as people sought more space during the lockdown.

“The desire to move to the country has turned into a trend from a short-term shift,” said Rightmove’s Tim Bannister. “Back in May when the market reopened in England we wondered how long the desire to move to the country or to smaller towns and villages would last.”

He said there are two main reasons for the trend: some buyers are more willing to have a country commute a few times a week, while others are preparing for social distancing to be here for some time and so are being drawn to places with more outdoor space.

The pandemic and resulting restrictions have inevitably led to people reassessing reassess their domestic priorities, with space inside and out becoming more attractive for some than the buzz of a town or city.

Across all George F. White offices, our agency teams have seen interest in rural and coastal properties increase as demand continues to outstrip supply and discussions with potential buyers including the need for an extra bedroom, a room suitable as a study, loft space suitable for conversion or outbuildings suitable to upgrade.

“The media have been keen to focus on the Stamp Duty holiday and undoubtedly that has been a factored considered by many prospective buyers but from the conversations we have had there is a strong desire for people to have a home that can offer more flexibility and cater from the increasing demand or need to work from home” said Lindsay French.

Migrating to the suburbs or countryside is not unique to the Covid-era. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show 340,500 people left London in the 12 months up to June 2018, and 336,000 the year before (the largest numbers since 2012).

There has always been the understanding that many young people are most likely to move in from the shires to chase the higher salaries, rapid career growth, and buzz of city life, and then later cash in on their inflated urban property values and move out, either at the point their wish to start a family or nearer retirement. But limited early data post-lockdown suggests we aren’t seeing just the normal cycle of movement. The number of job seekers wanting to get out of the capital in 2020 has more than doubled compared with the same period in 2019, according to one career advisory service, Of those who signed up, 51% were looking to leave London compared to 20% last year. A YouGov poll found many people, at a range of ages and stages in life (some homeowners, other renters), were considering moving further afield because of remote working.

Working from home isn’t for everyone, that may be due to the nature of their job, the lack of quiet space at home but for those where it is an option could it change everything?

There have been suggestions that new technology could free up people to live further from their workplaces and Covid-19 has caused a lot more home working than usual. Post-pandemic, it is possible that more people will work from home. This could indeed fuel a spike in suburbanisation and counter-urbanisation.

Whether the post-Covid migration ends up being another urban pipe dream (the one you entertain after a few glasses of wine), or just the continuation of the traditional cycle (young people move in, older people move out), we have collectively witnessed a re-evaluation from both organisations and individuals. With greater accessibility to remote working, a door has been opened, showing us the future doesn’t have to look the same as the past.

Guide for First-Time Sellers

Whether you want to move to a new location, upgrade to a larger home or are looking to take on a project property, selling your home can seem like a mammoth task. If you have never sold a house before, all the unknown processes can leave your head spinning. Maybe you need to sell your home right away or perhaps you are making preparations to put your house on the market in next year. Whatever your situation, we have created a helpful guide to prepare you to sell your home for the first time.

Preparing your home

You want to ensure prospective buyers see your property in its best light to promote more interest, a quicker sale and a higher offer. Viewers of the home need to be able to picture themselves living there. Cleaning, decluttering, tidying and repairing the home will ensure the home is move-in ready and more desirable to house-hunters. Getting the house up to a good standard will make it easier to sell and could even get you a higher offer.

If you are thinking ahead, there are many improvements you could make to add value to your home. Updating your kitchen, installing central heating or even adding an extension could help you get the best price for your property but take advice from a property professional before you start any improvement works.

Instructing the right estate agent

The process of selling your house usually takes two to three months, but it could take longer, so it’s important that you get on well with your estate agent.

Here are some important things to consider when choosing your estate agent:

  • Will you choose an online or traditional estate agency? – Traditional estate agencies will provide the full service of selling your home with an office you can visit and will charge a fee once the sale has gone through. Online agencies are less commonly used by sellers. An online agency usually will not have an office and will charge an up-front fee for advertising your property online.
  • Qualifications and experience – Not all estate agents have qualifications, but it is especially important the agent you choose has experience selling a home similar to yours.
  • Professional memberships – Estate agents with professional membership will be regularly updated with the latest codes of conduct and Government guidelines. Look for memberships, such as The Guild of Property Professionals, the National Approved Lettings Scheme, The Association of Residential Letting Agents or The UK Association of Accredited Letting Agents
  • They sell similar homes to yours – If you are selling an affordable first home, an agent selling similar homes will understand how to best market that type of property.
  • Compare fees – Find out what services they offer, the costs of these services, and additional fees, such as withdrawing property from a sale. Lower fees may be an indication of what is included in the service. A standard fee may not cover additional marketing fees.
  • Marketing – Find out exactly how the agent will be marketing your property. Where will your property feature on online platforms and portals? Will your property be advertised in print and online publications? Will a professional be taking the photos and videos?
  • Agent reviews – Reading recent reviews can give you a good idea of what your experience will be like. You could also ask your friends, family, and neighbours for their recommendations.
  • Covid-19 policy – Find out what measures your estate agent will be following and how this will impact the process of your sale. View the George F. White Covid-19 Assessment here.

Set the right price

The pricing strategy can have a big impact on the interest in your property, the offers you receive, and how quickly it sells. Book a quick online valuation to get an initial idea of the value of your home. Then, by speaking to estate agents, you can get an idea of what they think your property is likely to sell for and what strategies they would use to maximise your property’s value.

The costs involved

  • Conveyancing fees – A solicitor or conveyancer deals with the legal transfer of property between buyers and sellers. Your conveyancer should be instructed as soon as you decide to sell your property. The cost of conveyancing fees will depend on the value of your home. Search online or ask your estate agent to help you get a few quotes.
  • Estate agency fees – Before you instruct an agent, it is a good idea to do your research. Compare agency fees and ask your potential choice of agents about the fees involved with selling your home. On average, you should expect to pay between 1% and 2.5% + VAT of the final selling price of your property.
  • Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) or Home Reports – In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, before you can market your property, you must have an EPC, which contains information about the energy-efficiency of the home and the typical energy costs. In Scotland, sellers are required to have a Home Report, which contains a property questionnaire, a single survey and valuation, and an energy report. Your solicitor or estate agent will arrange for a chartered surveyor to complete a home report for you.
  • Removal costs – Don’t forget to factor in the cost of moving. Get a few quotes from removal services online and check out their Covid-19 safety policies to see if this will affect your move. For longer distance house moves, expect the price for removal services to be higher.

Putting your property on the market

After instructing an estate agent, they will usually visit the property to take measurements, information about the property and photos and videos for marketing material. The ways an agent may market your property include:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Floorplan
  • Brochure
  • ‘For Sale’ boards
  • The agent’s buyer’s database of people looking for homes like yours
  • Social media
  • Listing the property in local, national, or international publications
  • Listing the property on online portals, such as Rightmove
  • An open house (if there are no restrictions)
  • Sending an interesting story about the property to a journalist
  • Network organisations, such as The Guild, who feature properties on touch screens in Park Lane, London, and in quality printed magazines

In cases where there are restrictions due to COVID-19, there are some limitations to what an estate agent can do, ask an estate agent what the current restrictions are, and how they impact the practical side of selling your property and what measures they have in place to deal with these restrictions.


By the time you are ready for viewings, you have already prepared your home for sale by cleaning, decluttering, and making repairs. Make sure the house is clean and tidy – dirty clothes on the floor will likely be a distraction from your lovely home.

Some agents have adopted ‘virtual viewings’ during the pandemic and these range from animated static images, video walkthroughs, professional videographers, and even live virtual viewings. Talk to the prospective agents and see what they are able to provide to help sell your home.


When considering an offer, there is more than just the amount offered to think about. The buyer’s position may have an impact on your decision to accept an offer.

Make sure to take some time to think about how the offer will affect the selling process before accepting it. Here are a few things to think about when considering an offer:

  • What is the buyer’s financial position, and will this affect the timescale of the selling process?
  • Is the buyer in a chain or are they a cash buyer who can pay immediately?
  • Do you need to sell the house quickly?
  • Are you willing to wait for a higher offer?

For a free no-obligation valuation or simply to discuss any of the above in more detail please contact your nearest regional office:

Northumberland, Cumbria & Borders – 01665 603581
County Durham – 01833 690390
Yorkshire – 01677 425301