COVID-19 and the first national lockdown plunged the entire UK property market into a state of unprecedented chaos. For the most part, the sector was shut down in its entirety, rendering it impossible for most property sales and purchase transactions to go ahead.
Buy-to-let landlords were also hit hard, who in many instances suddenly found themselves with tenants who simply couldn’t afford to pay their rent. Elsewhere, buy-to-let landlords faced the prospect of their properties sitting vacant indefinitely, causing issues with their own property loan repayments and general overheads.
In total, it was estimated that 54% of tenants contacted their landlords at some point during 2020 to discuss a rental holiday.
A More Reassuring Outlook Ahead
Despite all the doom and gloom the past 12 months brought the buy-to-let sector, experts are predicting a more positive year ahead. The residential property market across the UK in general has seen a surprising and continuance of strength, which most anticipate will continue throughout 2021.
Buy-to-let landlords are also expected to enjoy a more prosperous year ahead – particularly those who take advantage of the government’s temporary stamp duty holiday within the next few months.
Speaking on behalf of Ludlow Thompson, chairman Stephen Ludlow commented on the surprising yet welcome performance of the buy-to-let sector in the face of such adversity.
“The buy-to-let market has continued to provide a reliable return on investment for landlords, even during the worst of the pandemic when other forms of investments went through a period of intense volatility,” he said.
“The historic resilience of residential property means many private investors are still looking to add to their holdings, particularly before March 2021 when the stamp duty holiday ends.”
Shifting Priorities and Preferences Among Movers
Mr Ludlow also went on to provide advice for new and existing landlords looking to make the best of the current situation and adapt to their tenants’ shifting priorities.
“We would advise existing and prospective landlords to consider re-purposing their properties to meet the changing needs of tenants,” he said.
“With people spending more time at home, having extra space both in and outdoors has become more important than ever. Outdoor areas and home offices are both in very high in demand, as is accessibility to high-speed internet”.
Working from home has triggered a major shift in priorities and preferences among home buyers and property renters alike. The more time people spend in and around their homes, the greater their interest in more spacious and comfortable properties with private outdoor living spaces.
Rural and coastal towns and villages have become property hotspots for buy-to-let investors and homebuyers, as attention turns increasingly away from cities and major urban city centers.