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Paul Bennett, Director

No one needs reminding of what happened in 2020, so let’s gloss over the details and slip into a more seasonal, sanguine frame of mind as we wrap up another 12 months in St. John’s Wood.


Speaking of wrapping up, you may have noticed our office window has had a winter wonderland makeover. For the sixth year in a row, we are delighted to be sporting a custom-designed, hand-drawn window display by artist Alessandra Tortone. The Behr & Butchoff centerpiece this year is a beautiful red bow, drawn so it looks as if our window has been wrapped up like a Christmas gift. Joining the scene are two deer in matching red scarves and a sprinkling of sparkling snow. We’re sure you’ll agree, it’s a beacon of brightness as we put 2020 firmly behind us.


If you peek through Alessandra’s wonderful window scene, you’ll see we have been busy selling and renting property in London, as well as taking on many new instructions. We expect to change the properties in our window on a more frequent basis in the New Year, as our forecast is for the London market to significantly improve.


On the immediate radar is the stamp duty holiday deadline. While we may not get a flurry of snow in the capital, we are expecting a flurry of late comers to the sales market and an avalanche of offers, with everyone keen to get their transactions across the line before 31st March 2021. If you’re hoping to save up to £15,000 in stamp duty costs, hurry. It’s still possible but you’ll need to bring your home to market now and have an offer accepted no later than the end of January to stand the best chance of completing in time (with even better odds if a cash buyer is involved).


Looking ahead to the New Year, we are preparing for the return, in person, of the international purchaser. There is a trio of good news boosting confidence, with a global immunization programme the real highlight.


There’s also the announcement that ‘high value’ business travellers who arrive into England after 5th December 2020 will no longer have to self-isolate, even if they’re travelling from a country not on the Government’s travel corridor list, plus there’s the new ‘Test and Release’ system, allowing visitors arriving into London after 15th December 2020 the chance to reduce their self isolation to five days.


That’s not to say that activity from overseas buyers ground to a halt in 2020. London’s ‘safe haven’ status prevailed, despite ongoing Brexit negotiations, with many international purchases made on the strength of our detailed property listings and expert knowledge given on a remote basis. Other buyers and tenants have been using our video tours to help them make decisions – although we are looking forward to an increased number of in-person property tours in the weeks and months ahead.


As we raise a glass this New Year’s Eve, we will be full of optimism for the 12 months ahead. Many companies and business sectors are aiming to come back ‘bigger, brighter and better’ in 2021, and it’s a sentiment shared by the Behr & Butchoff team.


If 2021 is the year you’ll buy, sell, rent or invest in property, let us guide you on your journey. New Year? Make it a new start.