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Property sales to rise to highest level since 2007 market peak, says Zoopla

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Britain’s pandemic property boom is expected to reach levels last seen just before the credit crisis in 2007, new research suggests.

Zoopla’s latest house price index claimed that property sales are on course to reach their most active year since the last market peak in 2007, just ahead of the financial crisis crash.

In a bouyant property market fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, it predicts that 473,000 more transactions will go ahead in 2021 than in 2020, lifting the total value of sales to a massive £461billion.

Predicted sales of 1.5million would mark 2021 as the most active year since the peak that preceded the credit crisis

Predicted sales of 1.5million would mark 2021 as the most active year since the peak that preceded the credit crisis

Sales transactions are expected to reach 1.5millon in the year to December, up 45 per cent compared to 2020, the property website said. The total number of transactions in 2007 was 1,613,810.

While the total number of transactions in 2020 was curtailed by market closures during the initial lockdown, average annual transactions in the previous decade have rarely exceeded between one million and 1.2million. 

Property sales of 1.5million would mark 2021 down as not just the most active market since the peak that preceded the financial crisis, but also one of the 10 busiest years since 1959.

It is hard to imagine a year ago that the property market would have seen such a turnaround in fortunes after it temporarily closed at the beginning of the pandemic.

But Government measures, such as an extended stamp duty holiday and the reintroduction of 95 per cent mortgages, have injected new momentum into the market.

The volume of activity is being matched by an increase in the value of transactions, according to Zoopla.

It forecast that the value of homes sold in 2021 is expected to reach £461billion. This is an increase of 46 per cent or £145billion compared to 2020, and 68 per cent compared to 2019.

While market activity is driving the total value of sales, more expensive homes are also changing hands amid the ongoing ‘search for more space’.

At the same time, the total number of homes available to buy is down 20.8 per cent in the year to mid-May, compared to the average last year.

Zoopla’s projections are based on current levels of activity in the market that will translate into completions later in the year, along with the website’s modelling of how elevated levels of demand will translate into activity throughout the rest of the year. It defines demand as the number of enquiries, such as emails and calls, to its agents.

Wales, Yorkshire & the Humber, and the North West are the hottest markets

At a regional level, the sales markets in Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West have seen activity speed up the most.

The time between listing a property and securing a sale subject to contract in these areas is down between 10 and 15 days compared to the 2017 to 2019 average. These regions are also recording the strongest price growth.

Wales, Yorkshire & the Humber, and the North West are the hottest property markets, according to Zoopla

Wales, Yorkshire & the Humber, and the North West are the hottest property markets, according to Zoopla

At a city level, properties in Wigan, Barnsley and Burnley are going under offer significantly faster. A typical property in these markets is selling three weeks faster than in 2017 to 2019. Annual price growth is also rising above the average in these cities at 5.8 per cent or more.

While the overall picture in Britain is positive, there are variations at a city level. Inner London is a case in point, with prices almost unchanged year-on-year, up 0.3 per cent, and property taking almost two weeks longer to go under offer compared to 2020.

At a borough level, average prices are falling in the City of London, which are down 2.5 per cent, those in Kensington & Chelsea are down 1.7 per cent, the City of Westminster’s are down 2.2 per cent, and Hammersmith & Fulham are down 1.4 per cent. 

This is a reflection of the softening of demand in inner city and prime London at the peak of the pandemic.

Inner London isn’t in isolation, however, and there are other cities across Britain bucking the trend of faster moving markets.

Properties in Southampton, Gloucester, Edinburgh, and Coventry, are all spending longer on the market. However, house price growth remains positive across all of these cities.

Zoopla has identified the areas with the highest price rises in the fastest-moving markets

Zoopla has identified the areas with the highest price rises in the fastest-moving markets

House price growth almost doubles in 12 months

In a further signal that the market is running at pace, annual house price growth has almost doubled in the past year. In April, house price growth reached 4.1 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent in April of 2020, according to Zoopla.

Price growth is at its highest in areas where affordability is greatest. At a regional level, house price growth is led by Wales, up 6.3 per cent year-on-year, and Yorkshire & the Humber, up 5.4 per cent during the same period.

At a major city level, Liverpool and Manchester are registering the highest levels of growth for the fifth month in a row, up 6.9 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively. This is twice the rate recorded in what Zoopla deems the normal markets of 2017 through to 2019, and amid a 10 per cent decline in the volume of homes available to buy.

By contrast, London continues to trail when it comes to house price growth and, at 1.9 per cent, is the slowest regional rate of growth across Britain for the sixth consecutive month.

Zoopla’s House Price Index is based on its own data samples. The 20 cities covered by the index contain 35 per cent of the UK housing stock by volume and 43 per cent of capital value. 

Map shows the change in annual house prices in regions across the country, as compiled by Zoopla

Map shows the change in annual house prices in regions across the country, as compiled by Zoopla

Grainne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, said: ‘Demand levels have moderated since the peak in the first three months of the year as the economy opens up and life starts to return to some sort of ‘normal’.

‘The easing of lockdowns will continue to cause a natural fall in demand as people are able to see family and enjoy amenities that have been shut for more than a year, but new buyer demand will still emerge throughout the second half of the year as office-based workplaces confirm if they will be pursuing more flexible working practices.

‘Households who have the opportunity to commute less frequently have more options when it comes to choosing where to live, and this could prompt a move.

‘Likewise, older households will continue to review how and where they are living, with many more set to move for the first time in years. With an increased array of mortgages to choose from, first-time buyers will also remain active in the market.

‘At the same time, supply constraints will continue to underpin pricing. The lack of supply is expected to hamper potential sales during this year, yet even so, we expect total transactions this year to rise to 1.5 million, marking one of the busiest years in the UK’s residential market in more than a decade.’

Estate agents said they had not seen a property market boom like this since 2007. 

Block viewings, best and final offers and sealed bids have been commonplace – outside of London we simply haven’t seen a property market like this since 2007 

 Kate Eales, of Strutt and Parker

Kate Eales, of Strutt and Parker, said: ‘Block viewings, best and final offers and sealed bids have been commonplace in the hottest markets – outside of London we simply haven’t seen a property market like this since 2007. 

‘Back in October when the market was flying, very few anticipated the run to last, however, we continue to be arguably busier. We still continue to register new applicants at an unprecedented rate.

‘However the main challenge we are now facing is a lack of stock, in fact we are roughly around 36 per cent down year on year – a challenge that the industry is facing as a whole and will lead to additional competition and increased pricing. 

‘But with the continued success of the vaccine roll-out and people feeling more comfortable, we do expect more vendors, particularly older generations to now come to the market. As such, the shortfall between stock and demand may diminish across the rest of 2021.’

Caroline Pattinson, of the North East estate agents Pattinson, said: ‘Historically, 50 per cent of properties that come to market will sell, but that success rate has increased significantly over the past year, as demand for property absorbs more supply. 

We’re also seeing more people relocating into the North East, taking advantage of selling in a good market 

Caroline Pattinson, of Pattinson

‘We’re also seeing more people relocating into the North East, taking advantage of selling in a good market, and then capitalising on the comparative value for money that property in our region offers.

‘Properties on the whole are selling much faster than before the pandemic, and it’s common in this current market to find that a home has gone under offer in a matter of days. Multiple offers and above asking price bids are both characteristics of the sales landscape.

‘That said, such acute levels of activity are causing bottlenecks in the sales process, and while it might once have taken eight weeks for a property sale to complete, in some instances it’s now taking up to six months, such is the backlog of transactions.

‘It’s our view that the stamp duty holiday was an unnecessary lever for the Chancellor to pull because the market was already booming. It’s created a false market now and is exacerbating the hold-ups in the sales process. As a result, we’re seeing a lot of activity across the auctions side of our business, with the certainty and speed of a transaction proving to be a beacon for many buyers and sellers.’

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Irish chief-of-staff meets Russian ambassador to discuss defence issues

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The Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov and the Chief of Defence Staff Lieut Gen Seán Clancy have met to discuss armed contacts between the two countries.

The meeting took place on Friday at the Russian embassy in Orwell Road, Dublin.

It was announced in a tweet from the embassy on Friday evening: “On January 21 the Ambassador of #Russia to #Ireland Y.Filatov met with the Member of the Chief of Defence Staff of Ireland S.Clancy.

“Parties discussed the issues of Russia-Ireland relations and international agenda, as well as prospects of contacts between (the) armed forces of (the) two countries.”

In response the Department of Defence said the meeting was a “routine courtesy call”.

A spokeswoman added: “As the recently appointed Chief of Staff, it is normal for foreign ambassadors to pay routine courtesy calls. This is one of a series of meetings. Such meetings are a matter for the chief of staff, not the minister. There is no ongoing military cooperation with Russia and there is no intention to do so.”

A spokesman for the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has not responded yet to the tweet.

Live fire exercise

Independent TD Cathal Berry said he believed the meeting has to do with a proposed naval exercise that the Russian navy intends to undertake in February.

The live firing exercise will happen 240km off the Irish coast outside Irish territorial waters, but within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Irish Aviation Authority has sent a notification to air traffic control in Ireland stating that the live firing exercises will take place between February 3rd and 8th and between 5am and 3pm on those days. The area in question is off the southwest coast.

The IAA states that “pursuant to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)annexs 11,15 and for safety of air traffic in the area you are kindly requested to issue international notam (a notice to airmen) to temporarily close above area for flights from surface to 11,000 metres”.

Dr Berry, a former army ranger, said the live firing exercise, while being legal, is a “warning to Ireland that we are military weak”.

He believed it was designed as an international provocation as it is close to flight paths and underwater submarine cables.

The Irish talks took place while negotiations ended between Russia and the United States in Geneva without agreement.

There are fears that Russia will invade Ukraine after Moscow massed tens of thousands of troops at the border, while the west has ramped up supplies of weapons to Kyiv.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met for about 90 minutes in Geneva at what the American diplomat said was a “critical moment”. Expectations had been low going in, and there was no breakthrough.

Mr Blinken told Mr Lavrov the US would give Russia written responses to Moscow’s proposals next week, and suggested the two would likely meet again shortly after that – offering some hope that any invasion would be delayed for at least a few more days.

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British Land unveils London Exchange Square scheme (GB)

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British Land reveals the opening of its new 1.5-acre Exchange Square located at Broadgate in the City of London. Designed by architects DSDHA, the park quadruples the amount of green space at Broadgate and creates a new outdoor space for workers and the wider community to enjoy in the capital. Exchange Square is now open to the public and includes 420m² of lawned areas, an exciting mix of planting and trees within its gardens, an amphitheatre with plenty of seating, and new retail and event space.

 

It aims to blend nature with the energy of London and promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of people who live and work in the local area. As spring approaches, the park will become a haven for workers looking to enjoy high-quality outdoor spaces when working from the office, and for the local community to enjoy a range of plants and biodiversity. The park’s range of planting is maintained by Exchange Square’s Head Gardener and is expected to be a popular choice for workers looking to make the most of premium outdoor space.

 

Health and wellbeing form a vital part of the €1.8bn (£1.5bn) investment in Broadgate to create an environment that brings people together to work, shop, drink and dine. Research commissioned by British Land shows that putting good design at the heart of urban development could lead to substantial improvement in peoples’ mental health, which would result in substantial economic rewards.

 

David Lockyer, Head of Campuses, British Land said: “As we start the New Year, Exchange Square aims to create an accessible, sustainable and better-quality place for workers and residents in the community in 2022 and beyond. Broadgate has undergone a significant transformation as a mixed-use destination that appeals to everyone. We hope that by creating a new outdoor area filled with green space, it allows visitors to find a tranquil place within a busy capital.”

 

Matthew Webster, Head of Environmental, British Land, said: “Exchange Square is a brilliant addition to London’s green spaces, and has a unique position within the City of London. Creating opportunities for people to encounter nature as part of their daily lives boosts wellbeing and productivity. This new, green space has been designed to enhance both physical and mental health in a variety of ways – through providing an area for tranquillity, opportunities for social interaction or through encouraging and making it easy for people to visit and move through the space.”

 

Deborah Saunt, Founding Director of DSDHA, said: “With Exchange Square, we are delighted to see the culmination of our Public Realm Framework for Broadgate, which has already enhanced and better connected the open spaces of Broadgate Circle, Broadgate Plaza and Finsbury Avenue Square. Our ambition for this new park was to create a landscape that nurtures both plants and people through retrofitting nature into the heart of the City, breaking down perceived barriers to the surrounding areas, and offering a space that provides opportunities for both recuperation and recreation.”

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Paint colour of 2022 is a deep purple called Very Peri

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Purple may not have graced our homes much since the psychedelic era of the 1970s, but all is set to change this year.

That is, at least, if we decide to follow Pantone’s recommendation. The world’s leading colour trend forecaster has controversially selected Very Peri, a shade inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower, as the colour of 2022.

It may seem like an odd choice when we’re still embracing muted tones and understated interiors. 

But Pantone’s annual colour choices wield huge influence with fabric and paint manufacturers and also among interior designers keen to deliver the latest looks.

Love it or loathe it: Pantone¿s colour of the year Very Peri is inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower

Love it or loathe it: Pantone’s colour of the year Very Peri is inspired by the deep violet blue of the periwinkle flower

Pantone says Very Peri embodies ‘carefree confidence and a daring curiosity’. Such assertions are another reason why some interior designers will not be recommending Very Peri. 

One remarked: ‘None of my clients would want purple in their homes, especially in the corner that they’ve set aside for their desk.’

Others are more positive, praising its effectiveness in almost any space.

Andrew Dunning, of London Contemporary, says that it represents a further move away from the Elephant’s Breath, the mid-grey Farrow & Ball paint that held sway in interiors in the early years of this century.

As a champion of the deft use of patterned wallpapers and brighter colours, Dunning considers Very Peri to be warm rather than chilly, particularly if furnishing fabric companies produce a lush velvet in the shade.

‘People have been scared of colour, but I think Very Peri could work well in a ‘wow’ piece like an accent armchair upholstered in the shade,’ he says. ‘It’s also an option for a cloakroom, a smaller place in the home in which you can be more audacious.’

Beth Travers, of Bobo1325, a Manchester design business, also argues that we should lower our resistance to the colour purple. 

Its historic links with royalty endow the colour with ‘luxury, power and nobility’. Since Very Peri is a blue tone of purple, Travers believes it can be ‘relaxing and soothing’.

Paula Taylor, of Graham & Brown, the paint company whose range includes the purple-blue Tanzanite, also thinks going bold could bring decor dividends.

Sitting pretty: Tresor Stool in Very Peri, to order at bykoket.com

Sitting pretty: Tresor Stool in Very Peri, to order at bykoket.com

‘Our Tanzanite used in a hallway would make visitors feel reassured and joyful. In a living room, it would be crisp but comforting, especially when teamed with one of our soft-whites, such as Baked Cheesecake, for a more timeless effect.’

The warm reception to Very Peri — in some quarters at least — could indicate that the shade will become an important part of the rise of blues and greens, a movement that began this year.

Simone Suss, of Studio Suss, a London design business, says this is connected to the wish to bring nature into our homes.

Such is the growing demand to introduce more elements of the great outdoors in the interior that more housebuilders will be prioritising ‘biophilic’ elements in their developments next year.

‘I am always inspired by the natural world,’ says Suss. ‘ I think biophilic design will be key in 2022.’ 

The other shades vying for supremacy in 2022 include Dulux’s selection Bright Skies, an airy blue that aims to inspire hope. Dulux recommends several palettes to accompany Bright Skies such as Greenhouse.

This array of blues and greens encompasses Fresh Foliage and Calming Meadow.

Breakfast Room Green, a cheery tone ideal for kitchens, and Stone Blue, a light indigo, are among the five shades that Farrow & Ball is tipping as the colours of 2022. 

The company is also backing the elegant School House White, along with Incarnadine, a dramatic crimson, and Babouche, a sunny yellow.

F&B senses people are ready to step outside their comfort zone which could augur well for Very Peri. 

But, in the short term, this shade seems less likely to suddenly explode than to be seen in small touches, such as Dark Flowers, a £23.95 poster print featuring sultry purple blooms from Desenio and purple cushions, such as the £25 cotton velvet cushion from Cotswold Company.

Loaf’s Joelle £2,345 19th-century style bed is available with a purple headboard for those who aspire to a more formal, almost regal setting after the pared-down aesthetic of the past two decades. But experimenting with Very Peri does not necessarily mean a break with the past.

It can look smart with any shade of beige or grey. Going with purple requires confidence. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for Very Peri over the next 12 months.

Savings of the week! Draught excluders 

William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes

William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes

The draught excluder, a long sausage-shaped pillow placed at the foot of a door, is a low-tech, planet-friendly means of staying cosy indoors.

This utilitarian item seems to inspire creativity among designers meaning that you can have warmth, plus aesthetic appeal. 

Low-cost options include the Kaia from The Range in charcoal, reduced from £11.99 to £10.99 and the Plush Bear in mustard at £5.59, down from £6.99. 

Not On The High Street’s cheery blue and red plaid version, pictured left, is reduced from £22 to £11.

The Snap Croc from Dora, a mid-price option, is down from £32 to £9.60. 

It resembles a crocodile whose aggression focuses on warding off chills. Wayfair’s Emmett excluder, with its prints of bees and ladybirds, reduced from £28.99 to £26.99 would lift any decor.

If you want to splash out, William Morris print excluders from Lancashire company ReddandGoud come in different sizes. The widest (99cm) is £40.80, from £48.

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