Covid crisis increases demand for fisheries

A change in people's attitude to work-life balance as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic led to an increased demand for fisheries between April and June 2020 with lifestyle and semi-commercial venues particularly appealing to purchasers, according to fishery sales specialists Fenn Wright.

Writing in their "Water and Leisure 2021 Market Update", the company said: "When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March, initially the water and leisure market came to a halt along with the entire property sector. However, as time passed it became clear that with more people at home, whether working, furloughed or unable to work, many began to reassess not only where they were living but also seeking a better work-life balance for the future."

Describing 2020 as one of the most extraordinary years in the company's 252 year history, Fenn Wright added: "With heavy restrictions on foreign travel and people wanting to be active outside, the domestic leisure and holiday market became a very attractive proposition. Specifically, we received a lot of interest in semi-commercial or lifestyle properties deriving an income, together with residential properties with water for private use."

The result, the company said, was a significant increase in buyer demand between April and June when Fenn Wright saw a 55 per cent increase in new buyer registrations and almost unprecedented levels of activity in the market. "In terms of overall sales, 78 per cent of all properties taken on during 2020 were either sold or sold subject to contract. The average time taken to agree a sale pre-Covid was 59 days compared to 28.5 days in the seven months following March, where we also achieved a number of off-market sales," said the report.

The surge in market activity had a positive impact on the price of water and leisure properties, specifically those with holiday accommodation, specimen fisheries and residential properties with water. Properties at the higher end of the lifestyle market, £750,000 to £1,000,000-plus, experienced the most notable rise, a sector which had been particularly price sensitive in recent years, the company said.

Despite this increased demand, supply of new properties coming to the market has not dramatically increased, something which is likely to be the result of a post-lockdown boost in sales for many business operators in the leisure sector supported by an increase in domestic tourism and Government interventions such as VAT reductions, the report said.

As lockdown restrictions eased on July 4, many operators offering holiday accommodation in England reported a significant increase in bookings. There was a sharp rise as people strived to make the most of the remaining summer season, amid fears over restrictions on foreign travel and quarantine periods.

"As well as increased consumer demand for domestic holidays, a combination of factors has meant we have seen increased demand from buyers. Lifestyle changes and a shift in the way we work have resulted in a sunrge of interest in holiday accommodation for private use, together with holiday complexes and lifestyle properties which provide an income," the report said.

Fenn Wright added: "During 2020, our Water and Leisure team sold or agreed sales on 78 per ent of properties that came to the market. This was an acceleration of a trend we had experienced over the past two to three yearsprior to Covid-19, with increased focus on domestic holidays or 'staycations' being mirrored by buyers actively looking to purchase leisure propertyies with water."

Looking forward to 2021, the company said that if market conditions stay relatively stable it predicts that demand will remain high, supported by those looking for lifestyle changes and a desire to invest in domestic leisure and tourism. "Water and leisure business operatyors are likely to continue to be busy, with an increase in UK 'staycations' underpinned by the increased risk and/or difficulties of travelling abroad, as it looks likely Coronavirus will be with us for some time".

To see a full copy of the Water and Leisure 2021 Market Update visit:

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