Not so long ago, the springtime mood in the housing market used to be get-up-and-go. March and April meant the smell of paint down almost every street as people who wanted to sell their homes gave their front doors a new look, writes RiverTribe Property Columnist, Anne Ashworth of The Times.


This year you will be smelling as much Dulux or Farrow & Ball as before, but less to entice buyers than to cheer the occupants who have deferred moving for yet another year. Grey continues to be the favourite. But the hot pink front door is a becoming a thing,  thanks to an Instagram preoccupation with zingy paints (#pinkfrontdoor)

The willingness to consider such a shade can be seen as a metaphor for the broader change now happening in the market. When recovery arrives, things may not go back to the way they were.  For example, renting as a long-term lifestyle is gaining popularity among two groups: millennials in high-earning jobs who still cannot buy a home and empty nesters who like the different vibe and may prefer to rent in London and buy a second home elsewhere. Maybe the West Country beckons?

In some parts of London, more build-to-rent schemes are appearing. These are luxury blocks with concierge services and elegant shared spaces, where tenants can work during the day and socialise in the evening. Perhaps the ultimate  ‘co-living’ community is the Manhattan Loft building in Stratford, East London, which contains restaurants and a hotel. Creative industry names enjoy lower rents.

The demand for such schemes may spread from edgier neighbourhoods to leafier suburbs, making owner-occupiers reassess their options. Over in Twickenham, M Bar and Grill is located underneath the new St James’s Development. London Square’s development at the Star and Garter has proved a resounding success with an international crowd renting as well as buying. According to one resident, it is the perfect solution for those with owned properties at home and abroad.

The prediction that the private rented sector may appeal to a new clientele is set to spark almost as much discussion as the speculation that property taxes are set for reform.

It seems unlikely that Stamp Duty rates will be tweaked, despite their damaging impact. At the same time, there is talk of obliging the vendor to pay the Stamp Duty on the property that he or she is selling. It is argued that such a step would encourage families to relocate because they would be paying  less tax to acquire a larger place.

Meanwhile, politicians (Labour and Tory) are starting to intimate that affluent homeowners should expect to be taxed more heavily in future. Higher Council Tax bands on more expensive properties are one option. There could even be a question mark over principal private residence relief under which no capital gains tax is paid on the sale of one’s first home.  

Without doubt, the withdrawal of this concession, a hugely valuable tax perk, would cause a furore. Yet the issue – which was once a no-go zone for politicians – is suddenly a talking point. Expect to hear some fiercely expressed opinions on the subject. The paint colour that gives a front door the most kerb appeal should cause rather fewer arguments.