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February 2021 | High Net Worth

Impacts on the 2021 property market

Peter Izard is business development manager of Investec Private Bank

With so many of us running our businesses or advising clients from home at the moment, I wanted to highlight the intermediary sector, and especially those advisers who are working alone.

Working from a home office can be a lonely business at the best of times. In a lockdown, when house calls to customers and visits from business development managers (BDMs), compliance specialists and network staff are off the menu, the arrival of the postman or the Tesco delivery van takes on particular significance.

The likelihood that the lockdown will now go on well into March is not going to help those finding it difficult to maintain a positive outlook. We may all be busy, especially with the end of the stamp duty holiday in sight, but money doesn’t necessarily compensate for endless hours in front of a laptop.

Online meetings mean that we can maintain our businesses, but we are all missing the face-to-face interaction with our colleagues when we can all be in the same room.

Apart from actually seeing customers, attending live events, seminars and expos and enjoying the banter and the opportunity to stock up with pens, pads and stress balls – so useful at the moment! – the feeling of being cooped up with only the dog and, if lucky, significant others to talk to, can be challenging. I encourage all of us to keep talking, however tough that call may be.

While it won’t suit everyone, there is also no substitute for physical exercise to provide a much-needed shot of adrenalin and mood-boosting endorphins. Apart from indoors exercise routines, the web is full of no-equipment regimes, and we can still go outside to walk and run if we want to be ambitious.

Not only that, but we can meet up, socially distanced of course, with another person not from our bubble. If you do venture outdoors, just beware of the cyclists and runners, usually imperfectly distanced and breathing hard as they go past. Just get out there, even in this weather – it really helps.

Whichever way COVID-19 is affecting you and your family, colleagues and friends, the vaccine rollout does offer the potential for a return to normality.

So, let us look forward to if not an end, a gradual adaptation and return to the ‘good old days’ – or something equivalent!

It was only a few years ago that the argument for independent whole of market advice from a living, breathing human being had been won convincingly. However, nothing lasts. The onward march of technology, married to customers’ desire for ‘everything now’ and the willingness of the regulator to reconsider loosening the rules around execution-only in response to lobbying from new web-based B2C providers, means we have to make every effort to ensure we reinforce the quality of service we offer to each and every customer.

In the rush to complete property transactions before the end of the stamp duty holiday, it would be too easy to overlook the little things, without which a completion could be held up and lose its place in the queue, just as the deadline arrives.

Have you arranged the buildings insurance to be in place, and has it been noted by the conveyancer liaising with your lender?

As the end of the stamp duty holiday looms, a simple oversight in arranging buildings insurance could end up costing customers thousands of pounds if transactions are held up because the paperwork is not complete.

Every adviser has a checklist in their head of what is required for a completion to take place, which in normal circumstances would ensure that nothing is missed.

The stamp duty holiday cut off date at the end of March makes this a far from normal time, and something so simple as having buildings insurance in place could get lost in the rush to get cases completed.

Although it is very simple to activate, leaving it until the last minute means that, with both conveyancers and lenders’ completions departments at full stretch, sending confirmation of a policy being on risk could be missed, with disastrous consequences.

Tens of thousands of pounds of extra cost to customers could be avoided just by ensuring that buildings insurance is in place in time.