Words by Hannah Tapping
A post-lockdown view of Cornwall’s property market.
There’s no doubt that the UK property market has seen some tough times over recent years, not least during Brexit, but from September last year, there was a perceptible wind of change. I speak to one of Cornwall’s leading estate agents, Jonathan Cunliffe, whose 25 years working in the prime residential market here makes him the go-to commentator for an assessment of the current market.
“Last September we saw the market suddenly change and sentiment improved. It continued to do so through the first quarter of 2020, right up until the eve of the lockdown,” explains Jonathan. Encouraging news, but where does that leave the market now, after nigh on three months where the market has been frozen? Jonathan’s own agency, which launched in 2018, has seen the market pick up where it left off: “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a boom market, I wouldn’t want to give anyone that impression, but it really does feel to us that it’s gradually strengthening, prices are firming, and the time it takes to sell a house is coming down. In fact, we’re starting to see a much better market for sellers than there has been for many years.”
Left: Jonathan Cunliffe
Jonathan believes that part of Cornwall’s resurgence in the market is due to its geographical location and topography: “Cornwall, as well as other rural and coastal areas, is doing well because people have realised that if we face another lockdown, then they would prefer to be locked down with some outdoor space and easy access to the coast and countryside. Many jobs, in many sectors, have successfully transitioned to a working-from-home precedent and so people are no longer reliant on living near major towns and cities.”
“The nature of the Cornish property market means that there will never be a huge amount of supply, but the current market is healthy. There’s enough choice for buyers and there are plenty of buyers around if you are a seller,” Jonathan tells me. His agency held strong during lockdown and didn’t lose any sales. But what of price? “Price, as we know, is led by demand, and demand is good. I think 2020 will see the return of the country house. During the 90s and the early 2000s many aspired to own country houses. Then, over the last 10 to 15 years, people remained living in a town house in London, for example, and preferred to travel more. I think that lockdown has resulted in more people wanting to purchase property with space so that, whatever happens, they will always have outdoor areas to enjoy.”