Second home sales soar as middle classes quit cities

“Sales of second homes are booming as the metropolitan middle classes seek country boltholes in case of a second wave of coronavirus.”

Left unchecked this is potentially an insatiable demand which hollows out permanent communities, pushes up prices and puts pressure to build on green fields.  Second homers can always outbid the locally employed because of huge regional wage differentials.  – Owl

Andrew Ellson Consumer Affairs Correspondent The Times

The stamp duty holiday is also encouraging people who have been considering splashing out on a rural retreat to take the plunge, according to market experts.

Coreco, the mortgage broker, says applications from people buying second homes are up more than 30 per cent since lockdown eased compared with the same time last year.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of the company, said: “Lots of my clients have been thinking about it for a while. Lockdown was a big factor and has given them time to contemplate their future.

“They are also thinking that if we are going to go into lockdown again they might as well be somewhere nice rather than in London or the City. Most believe they will also be working more flexibly ‘in future so are looking for places with an office and garden.” He added that people are buying at locations across the country but Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall were favourites.

Many second-home buyers pay with cash but those who need to borrow can benefit from record low interest rates. Provided they have a significant deposit and secure income, five-year, fixed-rate loans are available at less than 1.5 per cent. Brokers said many buyers had large amounts of eqtiity in their first property so were borrowing against that to provide cash deposits.

Homeowners were also buying second properties to let out as holiday accommodation. Lea Karasavvas, of Prolific Mortgage Finance, said: “Holiday lets are so hot right now. With concerns over travel, coronavirus not going away, people are seeing a new opportunity.”

However, not all property experts believe now is a good time to buy. Henry Pryor, a buying agent, said: “My advice to prospective second-home owners is to wait. There are lots of credible voices, such as the Bank of England and Halifax, who think prices might be 5 to 10 per cent lower in a year.”