Demand for Norfolk properties soars as work-from-home triggers London exodus
PUBLISHED: 06:30 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:16 17 July 2020
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
Home-buyers are scrambling to pick up property in Norfolk thanks to the stamp duty holiday and the more flexible working patterns the pandemic has brought.
The county’s estate agents have seen strong interest as the lockdown eases with many buyers coming from London, the south and the Midlands.
And chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement last week of an eight-month stamp duty holiday has given the market another boost, with buyers standing to save thousands of pounds on the price of their new home.
Jan Hÿtch, partner at Norwich-based Arnolds Keys, said the shift towards “work from home” jobs was one of the most interesting factors in the upswing.
Mrs Hÿtch said: “A lot of people were living in a commuter belt specifically to be on the end of train line to get them into central London five days a week in a reasonable time.
“Now people who can work from home are looking at their little boxes in the estuaries and deciding that they’d rather be living somewhere lovely like Norfolk.
“The surge started in the north of the county and the coast, but if you’re not anchored to an office the world is your oyster. Norfolk is blessed not only with the coast but amazing waterways so it has fired up interest in the Broads and other areas as well.”
Mrs Hÿtch said there had been a 400pc rise in searches for homes with larger gardens or home offices, which could influence the way homes were built and be part of a sustained trend.
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She added: “For the price of a Docklands apartment you could buy a beautiful, detached rectory and a couple of acres in north Norfolk. It really gets the imagination going.”
Paula Tuck, branch manager at Sowerbys in Fakenham, agreed the strong demand was mostly lifestyle-driven.
She said: “One lady I took to see a property in mid-Norfolk said she wouldn’t have to go back into London until October next year.
“If they can work remotely people don’t want to be holed up in the Home Counties.
“We were dealing with a robust market anyway, and the stamp duty holiday has certainly helped. People are mindful that frees up their budget a little bit.
“Anything along the coast or in Holt is absolutely flying.”
Mrs Tuck said the popularity of holiday cottages was another factor.
She said: “It’s difficult to find any vacancies at the moment because people are taking staycations, so people are investing in those properties as well.”
Mr Sunak last week raised the minimum threshold for stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000. The savings escalate quickly with the price of the property - someone spending £200,000 saves £1,500, which rises to £5,000 for a £300,000 home and £10,000 for a £400,000 property.
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Stamp duty still applies for buy-to-let and second homes, but the rate has been cut to 3pc for properties under £500,000, and 8pc for those between £500,000 and £925,000.
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Shane Ballard, director at Fakenham-based Norfolk Agents, said the rebound had taken him by surprise, with record sales being achieved.
Mr Ballard said: “We’ve had one property sell for £35,000 over the asking price, another for £25,000-£30,000 over. One of those was on the market last year without a buyer and without interest.
Mr Ballard said there had also been high demand for second homes, from southern as well as East Midlands buyers, who look to Norfolk as their “nicest, closest coast”.
He said: “There has been significant interest from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, even to the point where we’re looking at doing some additional marketing campaigns around the East Midlands because of the demand for second homes.” Mr Ballard said the upswing was only partly due to the stamp duty holiday.
He said: “The market was already moving at a rate of knots with pent up demand from buyers and sellers unable to transact through the lockdown period.
“We’ve found that buyers have been prepared to increase offers and be a little bit more aggressive thanks to savings from the stamp duty holiday.”
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