It has certainly been another very busy month in the world of property for us at Quealy & Co! It seems that people in the Sittingbourne area are still very keen on finding a new place to call home.

Many people are still working from home, so their living and workplace arrangements are most important in their thoughts at the moment...

In fact, ‘garden’ was the most popular search term throughout 2020 for both buyers and renters. The Property Academy Home Moving Trends Surveys 2020 found that for buyers and renters whose priorities had changed since the start of the pandemic, a garden had become more important to 67% of renters and 64% of buyers!

Properties are selling very quickly, partly because of the desire for more a more functional living space and improved garden, and also because of the Stamp Duty Holiday. It is no surprise whatsoever that COVID-19 and the Stamp Duty Holiday remain key to the property market ups and downs at present.

While for some daily life is still uncertain, and of course with the introduction of a new Tier 4 in some parts of the UK, including Sittingbourne and the surrounding area, the situation is rapidly changing. You can rest assured that we at Quealy & Co remain absolutely committed to helping you to buy or sell a property in Kent.

If you need property advice from an expert local estate agent, then please do get in touch with us and we’ll do our very best to help.

So, here is a round-up of what’s going on in the property sector nationally, but of course, if you want to know about the more local ins and outs in the Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Minster on Sea and Faversham areas then get in touch. Call us on 01795 429836 or email

Is the housing market open in Tier 4?

At the time of writing, the housing market remains open across the UK, including in the new Tier 4 areas of England. An announcement from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on social media said: “Housing market update: the sales and rental markets remain open in all tiers. All associated activities can continue as before.”

But he also said: “Please follow the Covid-secure guidance. And use your judgment as to whether it’s necessary right now.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also given guidance for the Tier 4 locations in England:

“Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.”

Quealy & Co are open to help with all your property needs, we are following the strictest hygiene procedures and constantly updating ourselves with the latest government guidelines to keep our customers and staff safe.

Government says no to Stamp Duty holiday extension

The Stamp Duty holiday initiated by the Government as a response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will sadly not be extended beyond March next year.

More than 23,700 people signed an online petition calling for the holiday to be extended, triggering a response from the Government.

It said: “The SDLT holiday was designed to be a temporary relief to stimulate market activity and support jobs that rely on the property market. The Government does not plan to extend this temporary relief.”

The Stamp Duty holiday has been for many the catalyst for confidence in the property market and it remains to be seen what will happen after it ends.

Rightmove predicts price growth

Property website Rightmove has predicted a four per cent price growth for 2021, saying that “housing priorities outweigh uncertainties”.

Referring of course to the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, Rightmove’s research suggest that the momentum of 2020 will carry on over the next 12 months, albeit slightly slower.

Additionally, they note that the property market was already on a good trajectory prior to the Stamp Duty holiday so the end of the holiday may not be as significant as some may believe.

New Help To Buy: Equity Loan

As the old scheme has come to an end, the new Help To Buy: Equity Loan scheme begins in April 2021, which is great news for first time buyers in the Sittingbourne area.

The previous scheme helped to sell almost 300,000 new homes during its operation. Homes England has announced that first-time buyers interested in new-build homes can apply for the new Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme from Wednesday 16 December 2020.

With a Help to Buy: Equity Loan, the government lends homebuyers up to 20% (40% in London) of the cost of a newly built home. Customers pay a deposit of 5% or more and arrange a mortgage of 25% or more to make up the rest. The equity loan is interest-free for the first five years.

Find out more about the scheme here.

Mortgage lending rules to be reviewed?

Zoopla reports that The Bank of England is “reviewing mortgage lending rules which could make it easier for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder”.

With everything that is going on in the world, the bank’s Financial Policy Committee is due to look at whether the “affordability criteria that borrowers must pass in order to qualify for a mortgage is still appropriate”.

There are stringent rules in place currently, and some would say this is needed because affordability is a key issue. However, it is thought that the rules disproportionately affect first-time buyers, and this has consequences for the property sector as a whole.

Rental prices increase

There has been a slight increase in average rent paid by tenants in private accommodation. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show rents increased by 1.4 per cent in the year to November 2020.

The ONS reports that “growth in private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK has generally slowed since the beginning of 2016, driven mainly by a slowdown in London”.

However, the ONS goes on to say that rental growth began to “pick up” well during 2019, driven by the London growth, although it is generally flat with no particular highs and lows.

Growth brings good news

House price growth “rose to 6.5 per cent” in November, according to analysts at the Nationwide building society. But while they say this was the highest rate since January 2015, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, Robert Gardner, strikes a word of warning:

“The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy.”

Quealy & Co just love to comb through the news headlines about property and are delighted to bring you housing market articles to keep you up to date. If you are thinking of moving home please get in touch with us on 01795 429836 or email to start the conversation.

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