Online estate agent Purplebricks has seen demand soar in recent months as the stamp duty holiday fuels the UK housing market - and CEO Vic Darvey believes the market is set to stay hot even when the relief measure ends.
Vic Darvey heads up the AIM-listed firm, which began offering 3D virtual tours of properties to would-be buyers during the pandemic. Over 60,000 customers downloaded the Purplebricks app in the third quarter of the year - a three times increase on the same period in 2019.
On Thursday Purplebricks revealed it saw a 12% uplift in its instruction numbers in the year to May, and said it is to pay back £1 million in furlough cash “due to our continued strong trading into the second half, and the strength of our balance sheet”.
In a trading update, the company said that its performance is being aided by the Government’s extension of the stamp duty holiday first to June, and then tapering off to October.
Darvey told the Standard he does not expect the housing market to crash when the stamp duty holiday ends.
He said: "I don't think it [the housing market situation] will change materially. If you look at where we are today and what the market is forecasting - the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla are forecasting as many properties to come to the market this year as last year - we think that the market is in a strong position, and will continue to be.
"I'm confident that we are going to continue to see a healthy and buoyant market. I think the [Government's recent] mortgage guarantee scheme is also going to help."
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The CEO said that the company is seeing "a real imbalance between demand and supply" at the moment, with buyers at +13% and sellers at -13%.
Homebuyers have been able to save up to £15,000 on the cost of a new home since July 2020, as the Government decreed buyers would not have to pay the stamp duty tax on the first £500,000 of the cost of their new property.
The holiday begins to taper off from June 30. Between July and October, buyers will not have to pay stamp duty on the first £250,000 of their purchase price.
Darvey added that his teams are seeing buyers expecting to work from home at least part time going forward, and that they are looking for houses or flats with gardens.
This has had a knock-on impact in London, with flats without gardens being “quite hard to sell” at the moment, he said.
Purplebricks, which will report annual results in July, recorded a pre-tax profit of £4.3 million for the six months to October, compared to a £2.3 million loss a year earlier. The company said it has £74 million in cash on April 30.
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