Our head of Rural Leisure, Stephen Richards, talks through the impact of the pandemic and other forces on the property market in his sector for 2020.
It is difficult to put into words the dramatic changes that the pandemic has caused to the market this year. I have worked in the leisure industry since 1997 – through foot-and-mouth, 9/11, the 7/7 London bombings and the credit crunch of 2008. I’ve seen the highs and lows of the market, and the positives and the negatives these major events cause for clients within the self-catering industry. 2019 was a good year for the sale of leisure businesses, especially holiday cottage complexes and lodge parks.
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The leisure property market in 2020
The Government lockdown in March brought the property market – along with much of the country – to a standstill. Through the months of April, May and June, we saw unprecedented levels of enquiries for leisure properties as corporate operators and individuals considered the future.
Our database of potential purchasers swelled, and this led to pent-up demand and, through the months of July, August and September, levels of viewings that we hadn’t seen since the height of the market back in 2007.
When the tourism industry was re-opened on the 4th July, many of my clients reported that they were then fully booked until the end of October. Anyone who has tried to rent a holiday cottage from Cornwall to the Yorkshire Dales will not be surprised, having probably spent hours on the internet trying to find available accommodation.
The 2021 season is a third full already, and many clients are considering increasing their prices due to the excess demand for their properties. It’s this level of demand that has made 2020 the year of the staycation, and there is nothing to suggest that this won’t continue into the next couple of years – something that is reflected in the level of enquiries we’re seeing from potential purchasers.
Who’s buying staycation property?
Our purchasers this year are from across the board – from new entrants into the market looking to set-up a glamping business by purchasing woodland or bare land, through to corporate leisure operators looking to expand their businesses.
Many are coming from London and the South East, looking to cash-in on the buoyancy of the residential market. They are looking to move to the countryside, and they see a self-catering business such as a holiday cottage complex or lodge park as an ideal way of funding their move.
Where buyers are not able or not inclined to borrow large sums, we have seen generations of family pooling their money to fund a purchase, and sharing the workload.
In 2008, we saw a trend of people selling their properties and using their pension (or redundancy packages) to purchase a holiday cottage complex as a semi-retirement project, providing them with an income stream and job, alongside the change of lifestyle they desired. There are early signs of this happening again, and with a potentially difficult economic climate ahead, I can only see this increasing.
The majority of our clients have owned their businesses long-term and many are now looking to retire. We have seen long established operators feeling that it is the right time to sell, having seen the number of leisure properties that have been sold this year.
What will the leisure property market be like in 2021?
It’s always difficult to predict the future but it seems very likely that, whatever happens, people will be more inclined to holiday in the UK than we have seen recently. 2021 is going to be an interesting year and the tourist honeypot locations across the country seem to be set for another bumper season.
Self-catering accommodation seems to be the favoured type of accommodation, offering the separation that many want and need.
About Carter Jonas Leisure Property Sales
Our leisure team spans all regions from Cornwall across to Norfolk, South and North Wales, across the Peak District and up to the Yorkshire Dales. We have a proven track record for the valuation, sale and professional advice within this market. We can also provide a confidential marketing campaign to protect the business.
Whether you’re thinking of a change in lifestyle, want to expand your existing portfolio, or sell your leisure property while the market is strong, Carter Jonas is best placed to help you. Get in touch
to find out more.