With the property market warming up over spring and summer, is now the time to buy? Lisa Preece talks to expert estate agents for the latest market news.
Terry Robinson, Banbury
I was pleasantly surprised by market activity in the first quarter of 2017. Surprisingly, January was our best sales month in over a year. We have had record levels of new buyers registering with us who seem motivated and have genuine reasons to move, rather than looking to buy within the next six months. More people are now deciding to put their homes on the market.
In Banbury, we are on the London commuter belt so over 50% of our applicants are from outside of Oxfordshire, but we are also seeing a lot of families who want to stay local.
Now is a great time to move. There are some great mortgage deals available, and I believe that 2017 will see more transactions than 2016. I feel that the market positivity and growth we are seeing will continue this year and into 2018. There are always headlines in the news and political topics that are set to test us, but if people still want to move home, I believe there are ten times as many reasons to make that move rather than stay put.
Clint Nykamp, Birmingham
With news headlines full of Brexit and the Election, it could be assumed that the housing market has experienced low confidence. However, across the West Midlands we have seen steady improvements in transactions with houses selling and more houses coming to market this year. It seems that both buyers and sellers are willing to push forward notwithstanding.
There has been an increase in buyers looking to buy for social status and community; we have seen a rise in transactions in the more popular and affluent areas like Edgbaston, Knowle and Dorridge. Buying in school catchments is still a big consideration for those with families, however in the upper quartile of the market, the property and location are still most important.
The higher end of the market has seen an increase in overseas buyers due to the weakening of the pound.
With a 6.9% rise in property from January to May 2017 (House Price Index), the rest of the year is set to be fairly steady, perhaps rising slightly towards the end of the year.
Jan von Draczek, North & West Norfolk
It was a slow start to the year but March and April are more active than last year and we have seen significant changes in appetite, especially for the more expensive properties. As usual, lifestyle buyers are looking for country living in an area that represents value for money. I think that if the property is well priced and in good condition, now is a good time to sell.
In Norfolk, I believe there is a good market for homes between £400,000 and £800,000, ideally in good condition with land. There are still specialist buyers looking for equestrian properties with stables and arenas, but the equestrian buyers usually require five acres as a minimum. Barn conversions with land are desirable, particularly if they have acreage. Larger period homes with character under £1,000,000 also seem to be popular this year. Ultimately, homes that are priced realistically are selling due to the slowdown of the London market, which is impacting the Home Counties, and typically a lot of our buyers come from this area.
Yorkshire & the Humber
Richard Crossfield, South & West Yorkshire
In Yorkshire, it is a seller’s market at the moment. We are receiving more applicants every week, and there are far more house hunters than properties coming to the market in any given area. The higher end of the market is moving well, with strong purchase prices from £500,000 to £1,000,000. In fact, we have seen more sales agreed above £1,000,000 compared with the same time last year. The market is slightly leaning in the favour of the seller; however, clients must be grounded and encourage property to enter the market at a sensible rate. We are finding this strategy gets the best results in terms of the level of the offer achieved and the quality of the buyer.
Sales are going well, with more properties receiving offers at the asking price or above than this time last year. There are fewer properties on the market now, and I would suggest that it is down by as much as 30%.
There is a real mix of people moving. We are seeing local families moving up-market, local applicants above 65 downsizing, young professionals moving back to the area from London to start a family, and retired couples following family to the area. Property within the catchment area of popular schools are experiencing rising valuation figures.
Joe Parry, Chepstow
The last sixteen months have seen a very good level of properties coming to the market in the Monmouthshire and lower Wye Valley areas as the market remains relatively buoyant. We are seeing buyers from a wide range of areas, though the overriding influence on the Chepstow market is Bristol.
It is well known that the Bristol market has reputedly outshone London in performance over the last two years. We are seeing many buyers upsizing from the Bristol area without extending their overall capital outlay. A good-quality apartment in Clifton may be £400,000, but a four-bedroom country cottage with land could cost a similar price in Chepstow. The figures speak for themselves.
Nick Miller, North Lakes & Eden Valley
So far, 2017 has been very encouraging, with an increase in instructions, number of sales and a reduction in the time to ‘under offer’. More sellers are coming to the market, especially with properties over £1,000,000. I think this is due to increased confidence in the upper end of the property market.
In the Lakes, we are seeing a lot of aspirational buyers who do not need to move, but are looking for their dream home in an idyllic location. We have received enquiries from all over the UK and the world, including the Cayman Islands, Dubai, and Germany. Most of our serious buyers are middle-aged couples, who are seeking a permanent move, second home or retirement property.
Looking ahead, I think that 2017 will remain a good year to buy.
Zara Ahmed, East London
The market in East London has been very fast paced and exciting this year, with an influx of high-end buyers. Properties coming onto the market have been steady, with a predicted pick-up coming into summer. Mostly, we’re working with a lot of first time buyers with high budgets, and small families looking to move into larger homes or relocate to rural areas. A lot of older couples are moving from the business of the City of London to the outskirts and countryside.
This time last year, the market was slightly slower after the rates of stamp duty changed. This year, we are seeing a lot of first-time buyers getting onto the property ladder, with more opportunities to place offers on properties.
In East London, it is the perfect time to both buy and sell. We are set to see the introduction of the Crossrail this year. It will, and already has, influenced the capital growth of property.
Napoleon Wilcox, Barnstaple
We have seen a great start to the year in the West Country. People are seriously looking to buy in the area, despite any potential misgivings from Brexit and the election.
In particular, we are seeing large numbers of families looking to upsize. North Devon remains popular as a holiday destination, and a lot of couples looking to buy a second home are active here at the moment.
Homes priced between £400,000 and £700,000 are most popular at the minute. The market is looking positive, with more enquiries than this time last year.
Darren Christie, Stamford
We are seeing lots of buyers in a great position who are serious about moving, so there has been a lot of interest and good levels of sales. I think the rest of 2017 will continue in a similar manner. There are not as many properties on the market as this time last year, but people are eager to get back into the market.
In Stamford, we are seeing most activity from families who are interested in the area due to the commuter links. Family homes are most popular, with properties in the region of £600,000 to £900,000 in the highest demand.