Will Leyland, 28 July 2020
Home improvements have been very much the theme of 2020 so far, with there being little else to do between the months of February and June.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had the effect of essentially shutting the world economy for one of the longest periods in modern memory, if not for over a century.
Stay at home orders, or ‘lockdowns’, as they’ve been named, have meant that enormous chunks of the world’s leading economies haven’t been able to operate, with consumers stuck at home either furloughed or working from home, apart from essential workers.
Even countries that didn’t lock down, such as Sweden, where inhabitants were expected to follow government guidance rather than orders, weren’t spared the economic consequences of anxious and worried consumers.
With a mass of consumers stuck at home but not much poorer thanks to government intervention, that money and spare time had to be funnelled into something, and according to market research conducted recently by Comscore “Compared to the week of Jan 13-19, 2020, visits to the home furnishings category has increased in all EU5 countries, with a 71% increase in France and a 57% increase in the UK, in the week of April 20 – 26, 2020.”
That’s a pretty astonishing rise in activity regardless of lockdown. Explanations range from consumers having simply nothing else productive to do, to potential sellers looking to increase the value of their homes before the sector re-opened in late May.
In keeping with this theme, the British government have recently announced that they intend to relax planning laws for residents, allowing them to add an extra two stories to their homes without the need for a planning application.
According to The BBC “The government said the new rules would prompt people to build more bedrooms or flats for elderly relatives, and create additional apartments and believes the planning system is a block on economic growth, but some councils say their planning systems can’t cope because the government has stripped so much of their funding.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We are cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.
This comes at a good time as many are now looking at moving home or increasing the value of their property with a view to selling later.
The added incentive for many has come in the form of the government announcing it is temporarily abolishing stamp duty for home buyers until next year. This has meant a huge spike in enquiries to agents and online directories like Rightmove and Zoopla.
With the government investing heavily in getting the housing market moving now might be exactly the right time to get going on those home improvements before upsizing.
Will Leyland, 28 July 2020