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Kent house prices up £56,000 during Covid pandemic


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Property prices in Kent rocketed by almost a fifth during the Covid pandemic.

Analysis of Land Registry data shows the average cost of a home in the county has soared by £56,000 (19%) since March 2020 – the sharpest spike in two decades.

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Estate agents say the boom has been fuelled by an "exodus" of Londoners seeking a change in lifestyle after the pandemic hit and working from home became far more common.

The biggest rises have been seen on the coast, with Thanet (26%), Dover district (24%) and Folkestone and Hythe (23%) leading the way.

Damien Cooke, founder of estate agents Cooke & Co, says Kent's seaside towns are in demand after shedding their reputation as being run-down.

He highlights the impact of Turner Contemporary and the "resurrection of the old town" as sparking Margate's regeneration. Meanwhile, along the coast in Folkestone, investment from Sir Roger De Haan has helped transform the town's fortunes.

Mr Cooke said: "We have seen a dramatic rise in prices in the Thanet area over the last two years.

Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate has sparked an upturn in the town's fortunes, say estate agents
Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate has sparked an upturn in the town's fortunes, say estate agents
Folkestone Harbour Arm is a symbol of the town's recent regeneration. Picture: Folkestone Harbour Arm
Folkestone Harbour Arm is a symbol of the town's recent regeneration. Picture: Folkestone Harbour Arm

"One has to remember that over the last 30 years since we opened, Thanet and its seaside towns were not valued and were seen as dole-on-sea.

"Prices even up until recent years were some of the lowest in the south east."

In 1992, Mr Cooke's team was selling terraced two-up two-downs in Byron Avenue and Milton Avenue in Margate for about £25,000. Now they are seeing £225,000 or more for these houses.

Since March 2020, the average price of a home in Thanet has risen by £61,715 to £295,228.

"The Covid pandemic made people realise what excellent value for money the could get if they sold in a higher price area and then moved to the coast," Mr Cooke said.

Damien Cooke, founder of Cooke & Co estate agents
Damien Cooke, founder of Cooke & Co estate agents
Two-bed house for sale for £230,000 in Byron Avenue, Margate. Picture: Miles & Barr / Zoopla
Two-bed house for sale for £230,000 in Byron Avenue, Margate. Picture: Miles & Barr / Zoopla

Simon Backhouse, director at Canterbury-based estate agents Strutt & Parker, says the first lockdown sparked an "exodus" of people from London wanting to "get out into the country".

He says many Londoners are remortgaging their homes in the capital and then renting them out, while snapping up houses in Kent, if they can afford to do so.

The stamp duty holidays also sparked a surge in activity in the property market which saw people bringing their moving plans forward. This has led to a current shortage of supply, with huge demand for houses – but few available.

Mr Backhouse says the majority of recent sales have either met or been above the asking price. This demand has seen the average cost of a home in the Canterbury district rise by 19% to £353,975 in less than two years.

He said: “Canterbury town houses used to be quite difficult to sell but they are now high in demand.”

Interest in Canterbury town houses in places like St Augustine's Road has soared during the pandemic, say estate agents
Interest in Canterbury town houses in places like St Augustine's Road has soared during the pandemic, say estate agents

Bigger houses like those in St Augustine’s Road and Ethelbert Road are proving popular, he added.

Similar activity has been seen in the property market in Faversham, according to Nathan Iliffe, director of Iliffe & Iliffe estate agents.

“We are seeing a number of people moving down from London,” he said. “The way people are working now has changed post-pandemic.”

Mr Iliffe says the Macknade Food Hall is a “massive draw to the town for a lot of people”.

Faversham’s large Victorian properties are sought-after by Londoners, according to Mr Iliffe.

Large Victorian houses, like this one in London Road, Faversham, are proving popular among Londoners looking to move to Faversham. Picture: Iliffe & Iliffe
Large Victorian houses, like this one in London Road, Faversham, are proving popular among Londoners looking to move to Faversham. Picture: Iliffe & Iliffe

“A lot of people love the thought of an older property with character,” he added.

Bradley Wright, senior branch manager at Miles & Barr in the town, said: “The introduction of many new-home developments has also revitalised the appeal of Faversham.”

The growing demand has seen the average cost of a home in the borough rise by 17% to £282,433 in less than two years.

But where does this leave young people in Kent hoping to get on the property ladder?

First-time buyers can access the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, introduced by the Conservative government in April 2013

Aerial photo of the Faversham Lakes new-build development
Aerial photo of the Faversham Lakes new-build development

It enables people to purchase a new-build with just a 5% deposit, while the government contributes a further 20% on top.

Thousands of housebuyers have benefited from the scheme.

However, analysis of Land Registry figures shows that raising that 5% deposit is now twice as hard as it was when the scheme was launched.

The average cost of a Kent new-build has soared 90% since Help to Buy began, from £224,416 to £426,887 today.

So while in 2013 you needed a deposit of £11,220, presently you require £21,344 – and don’t forget the £6,344 stamp duty on top.

"We are finding people from all over the country are now visiting the area and buying first homes or also second homes."

Mr Backhouse admitted the rising prices are making it “very difficult” for first-time buyers.

Mr Cooke added: "The prices have gone up substantially, which does make it much harder for locals to get their foot on the ladder.

"This is a real shame and is sad but is a sign of an upcoming area.

"It is certainly increasing the worth of the area, allowing more local shops to open and make a living and also we are seeing buildings that have been neglected for many years brought back to life.

"We are finding people from all over the country are now visiting the area and buying first homes or also second homes."

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