By Mike Crane, a local estate agent since 1984

IT’S been a very busy year for Crane and Co and as an estate agent I recognise the huge privilege we were granted when the Government instructed Estate Agents to continue trading, while many other businesses were asked to close their premises to customers.  

With this privilege comes the responsibility of ensuring that the risk to our clients, colleagues and homebuyers is reduced to the absolute minimum by closely following government guidance and adding further layers of protection through our activities and actions.  

Temperature checks, contact free viewings, face-masks, gloves, viewing first through our online virtual viewing facility, are all now part of the standard processes in estate agency

Mike said: “I can always predict that the market is unpredictable. When we went into Lockdown last March, I’m sure I looked very ashen faced as I grappled with what this might mean for the hundreds of local sellers out there.

“But I needn’t have worried – 2020 was certainly an exceptionally busy time.    In December, normally a quieter month, sales in hand were over 130,000 higher nationally than the same period last year while enquiries have shot up by almost a third.  Nationally,  2020 saw the number of property sales increase by 10% compared to 2019.  Who would have expected that when we went into lockdown last March?

The early data for the housing market in 2021 so far shows transaction levels have increased again by 9% over last year.  It’s too early to call that a trend but the market start in 2021 is very much the same as it finished in 2020.  

“The stamp duty relief has helped but the market was already much busier than normal when it was introduced.  The SDLT concession has simply made more buyers and sellers alert to the prospect of moving home while the continuing low interest rates mean that there is still headroom for selling prices to grow in 2021.”  
When stamp duty becomes payable again a typical £300,000 purchase attracts a SDLT charge of £3,500 so for most buyers the end of the concession will not be the ‘cliff edge’ in the market place that some sellers may be worrying about.

Mike identifies these key areas:

  • 85% of buyers surveyed said that the Covid-19 pandemic had not changed their home buying budget and 7% said that their budget had actually increased as a result
  • Buyers desire for more inside and outside space continues
  • Mortgages – the highest level of mortgage approvals since August 2007

The stamp duty concession, where some buyers can save up to £15,000, is due to end next month and Mike is seeing a conveyancing rush to get those deals through before that deadline.  

“There’s a significant bottleneck in the conveyancing system as a result of such a large increase in activity while at the same time many services connected with the process, such as local authority searches, are taking much longer as a direct result of changes to their processes and staffing levels caused by the pandemic”.

Mike says more buyers are now looking at their next purchase as a home where they settle for a longer period of time.  55% of buyers said that they plan to remain in their next home for 11+ years  and 31% of buyers expected to live in their next home for 20+ years.

Many more people are working from home and many want more green space around them. Living environment is now more important than ever and we have seen a very significant increase in enquiries from buyers moving away from cities and larger, more densely populated towns.
There is also more multi-generational living where 2 or 3 generations of the same family pool their resources to buy larger homes where they can live together but still live independently.

To chat with an expert and discuss your Eastbourne and Hailsham area moving plans,  get in touch with Mike on 01323 440678 or email