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Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Date Posted: 07/01/21

What a year 2020 has been, we were not expecting that one!

In the last couple of years, we have survived economic uncertainty, an election and what seemed like an endless Brexit campaign leading to a referendum and a vote to leave the EU.

Then just as we thought things were starting to get better a global pandemic. COVID 19! Who had ever heard of a global pandemic, let alone COVID!

By March 2020 there was a national lockdown, with our whole industry, along with many others, given less than 48 hours to close up. Most of our staff were furloughed (another new word!) but Putterills’ Directors worked remotely throughout, despite not being able to conduct viewings or valuations other than virtual ones.

On the positive side, lockdown brought out our human spirit along with many acts of kindness. We checked on our neighbours and the vulnerable to see if we could help, if they needed shopping, or sometimes just needed someone to talk to. Communities grew together and every Thursday night we all clapped for the NHS along with all the essential key workers that kept us going.

Despite our fears during lockdown as to the impact on the property market, within just 12 hours of the lockdown ending we sold our first house. Very quickly it became clear that the property market was resilient, in fact, it was benefitting as people reassessed their lifestyles, many people being able to work from home, others accepting that an extra commute time to live outside of London or a major city was worth it, for a better work-life balance. Hertfordshire and central Bedfordshire are ideally placed to meet these needs and very soon all Putterills’ offices were back to full capacity, with many staff working twice as hard as ever.

Then the Government introduced an unexpected Stamp Duty Holiday which added fuel to the fire!!

RightmoveRightmove reported levels of transactions rising by a staggering 67% over the same period last year, which was echoed by Putterills’ offices own experiences.

However, due to a combination of massively increased demand and many of the parties involved in the moving process (ie solicitors, lenders, local authorities, surveyors etc) having reduced staffing levels and working from home, services became inundated and the result was delayed transactions and very stressed buyers and sellers.

During this difficult time a few chose to blame Estate Agents for delays despite them being beyond our control, but most thanked us for our perseverance with kind reviews, cards and even chocolates and many of us encountered the full range of peoples' emotions from tears to tantrums. We have all learned to live and work whilst Covid has been present. We set safety guidelines for our staff, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. We have got used to doing appointments in PPE and only allowing the public into our offices by appointment.

Now we have another word to add to our new vocabulary, Tiers.

Despite all of this, we have coped and coped well. Almost all of the Putterills offices have exceeded the levels of business we did last year, but several are likely to have record years - quite an achievement against the background of a pandemic and economic uncertainty.

So what are we expecting from 2021?

It seems likely that we are in for a pretty rough rest of the Winter with continued lockdowns and tiers for the near future, but there are now real signs of hope.

A vaccine is already being administered and others have now been approved which should mean that life can return to some sort of near normality in the not too distant future.

Brexit is sorted and Britain is about to become an “Independent Coastal Nation”. We have secured a free trade agreement with our closest neighbours, the EU, but many are now excited about the prospect of increased trade across the globe.

There will of course be hiccups along the way, but a number of economists and political spectators are talking about a 1920’s style trade boom in the near future and looking forward to Britain becoming an even more important player in the world’s economy.

Soon we hope to be able to meet with family and friends again, socialise, oh and also move house. We think there will be an awful lot of people wanting to do that in 2021.

Over the Christmas break Putterills have been amazed by the number of new enquires from both buyers and potential sellers.

The United Kingdom continues to have the lowest interest rates in its history, the Government’s Help To Buy scheme is continuing for New Homes for First Time Buyers and hopefully we will have an economy on the mend.

We are optimistic that many of the people that had been made unemployed in hospitality, retail and other industries will find new careers. Hertfordshire has a diverse range of employers, so we are confident new employment opportunities will arise.

Already we are hearing of some solicitors and lenders turning away new business because they are at full capacity and cannot guarantee to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March (maybe it will be extended?) but we are still confident of a strong start to the new year.

Many of our New Homes developers are already telling us that they will offer Stamp Duty as an incentive to combat the impact of the end of the Government’s Stamp Duty holiday.


The Winter Solstice (shortest day) is now behind us so we are starting to edge our way towards spring, so let’s all hope there really is light at the end of a long and challenging tunnel.

Putterills DirectorsWe wish all of our clients, buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants a happy, prosperous, healthy and hopefully ‘nearly normal’ new year in 2021.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Putterills Directors