Gardens of opportunity

With the unpredictability of the UK property market since the first lockdown mortgage advisers have been kept on their toes to say the least.

Gardens of opportunity

Rob Evans is chief executive of Paymentshield

With the unpredictability of the UK property market since the first lockdown mortgage advisers have been kept on their toes to say the least.

For all the unexpected incentives to buy and sell and let properties, from stamp duty holidays to the migration from cities as working habits were flipped overnight, there have also been a large swathe of customers who have taken the decision to stay put.

But with that has come a continued increase in investment in home improvements.

As every entrepreneurial adviser knows, just because a customer opts to improve rather than move, doesn’t mean they don’t still need the support.

One thing most homeowners share at the moment is a likely drastic change in financial circumstances – and as an industry, we must support and protect them through these changes.

As part of this year’s National Conversation Week (7-13 June 2021), we commissioned a major market research project to support the theme of people’s changing relationships with the home with national consumer polls conducted with YouGov in January and April this year.

We wanted to identify changes in people’s spending and investing behaviours around their homes since COVID first struck – in order to make sure we understand how our insurance products and services support their changing requirements.

Within the January survey, the biggest home improvement investment by a comfortable margin was outdoor space (17%).

When looking at any home improvement, we encourage advisers not only to talk to customers about remortgage or equity release, but also to have the conversation about how the improvements will affect their insurance needs.

The high proportion of adults across the UK investing in their gardens is a not unexpected trend, since any private outdoor space has become ever more precious after more than a year of pandemic restrictions, and is a trend that is expected to continue as restrictions ease.

Every one of these ‘customers represents a real opportunity to share the full holistic value of your advice. With garden improvements comes a need for funding, a proportional increase in property value, potential new sheds and outbuildings as well as additional contents that will also require protection, from lawnmowers to outdoor furniture.

Elsewhere in our April survey we noted a small trend in the number of people buying hot tubs (1%) and even swimming pools (1%) since the first lockdown.

The purpose of Paymentshield’s involvement in National Conversation Week is to encourage people not to be afraid to talk about money; to seek the right professional advice around every aspect of their financial wellbeing.

Given the circumstances of the past year, this year Paymentshield and other supporters of the awareness week are urging people and their advisers to have a financial review.

Even if the only thing that has changed since your last meeting is their garden.