Regional Report: South Bucks and Berkshire, North Somerset and Salisbury

Each month we visit three agents across the country to discover what is happening in their local market. This month we meet members of The Guild of Property Professionals in South Bucks and Berkshire, North Somerset and Salisbury.

Property image
STATS: (Farnham office) Average time on sale: 8 Weeks Average time on rent: 8 weeks. Average sale price: £555,000 Average rental price: £1560pcm


Ciara Evans - Hilton King - imageHILTON KING AND LOCKE ESTATE AGENCY
Ciara Evans, Senior Negotiator

In South Bucks and Berkshire, house price growth has slowed in October by around 0.60%, but still remains in positive territory for the year to date. Currently the average sales price for our Farnham Common office is around £555,000, with the average time a property spends on the market remaining unchanged at between four and eight weeks.

While we were expecting transactions to be down this month, we have seen a sudden turn for the better, which we believe is most likely due to banks reducing interest rates and a slight resurgence of confidence in the market. As a result, we have seen properties that were seeing limited interest, now attracting views, and going under offer. The uptick has resulted in our Farnham Common office increasing the number of sales agreed by some 175% in the past month.

Despite a slight uptick in transactions, it is predicted that overall activity is likely to remain fairly steady going into 2024. The fact remains that with the increase in cost of living and consecutive interest hikes we have experienced over the past while, for many people affordability is stretched. That said, both first-time buyers and downsizers markets have held up relatively well. The allure of purchasing a first home remains strong, especially as rental prices increase.

Demand exceeds supply

Speaking of the lettings market, it is interesting to note that on average we have seen the time it takes to find a tenant decrease significantly. Our average rental price is around £1,560pcm but on the rise, with the demand for rental properties coming to the market exceeding current supply.

At Hilton King and Locke, we specialise in the sale and rent of residential properties in South Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Leveraging our local expertise, we navigate the current market challenges with our ample marketing skills and offer tailored solutions to meet the demands of our clients. Our strategies focus on showcasing properties effectively, extensive, and personalised customer service and much more.

Featured property: Christmas Lane, Farnham Common – £1,295,000.

Somerset property image
STATS: (Across three offices) Average time a property is on sale: 5 weeks Number of transactions (or under offer) in last 4 weeks: 7 Average length of time between sale agreed and key handover: 15 weeks


Andrew Simmonds - Parker's Estate Agents - imagePARKER’S ESTATE AGENTS
Andrew Simmonds, Director

A casual observer might be fooled into thinking there are a lot of homes on the market in Backwell, North Somerset with boards appearing all over the village. In fact, they read “Save Our Village” or “Save our fields” and are the physical signs of the conflict between those living in a well-connected village and the desires of developers. Because it has a mainline railway station with trains to London and good road, cycle and bus links into Bristol homes in the village fetch a premium. More and more of the older housing with good sized gardens and views of the countryside are tipping into the £1 million+ price bracket.

Planning applications

The attractive location has led to a number of planning applications from developers who want to add to the housing stock creating new homes on farmland. It remains to be seen whether the local authority and developers get the balance right and maintain the elements that make living in semi-rural areas such as North Somerset attractive while meeting the needs for housing from a growing population. Those already living in the area say infrastructure such as school places and doctor’s surgeries and road congestion will come under pressure if too many of the homes get the go-ahead.

At the moment there is no sign that house prices will be affected negatively by any of the new build plans. It is the biggest challenge facing the area in the next 12 months and is fuelled by locals needing homes at the same time as those from Bristol and London also looking to North Somerset as the ideal spot to put down roots. Small North Somerset towns, such as Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead have seen a good deal of new build in the last decade and now it is the villages dotted between them that is attracting the eye of those wanting to build new.

Featured Property: 72b Church Lane, Backwell – £1,170,000.

Salisbury property image
STATS: Prices down by: around 5% 95% of sales are: under £400,000 Level of sales collapsing increased from 10% to approximately 30%


Tony Williams - Whites - imageWHITES
Tony Williams, Sales Director

What an interesting world we live in! At Whites we handle sales between £100,000 and £1 million and cover an area of 10 miles radius in all directions from Salisbury. Our normal sales ratio is 30% in villages to 70% in the city. Our ratio on pricing would normally be 30% of sales above £400,000 with 70% below. So, are we busy? The answer is yes but only in certain areas. Our sales ratio today now shows that 95% of our sales are under £400,000. If we go back over the year the number of sales per month is remarkably consistent which shows that activity at the lower end of the market has actually grown, whilst the village and larger enquiries have slowed down. We still get a lot of enquiries on properties needing work with large gardens.

Although instructions have slowed down, we are already lining up properties to launch in the new year. Have prices dropped? Yes, we think by about 5% but then of course they went up by 15-20% during the pandemic so does it matter?

Conveyancing lethargy

We have had to take on another member of staff to chase the chains due to the terrible lethargy within the conveyancing world. The old adage that you can only move at the pace of the slowest common denominator has never been more apt. Exchanges, which should go through within two months are now commonly taking three months, if not more. Perhaps it is not the market that is challenging, as there are enough buyers, but rather professionals that surround it making it more difficult than it needs to be. This can range from conveyancers who are uncontactable and surveyors who point out all the areas that problems might exist in with no proof whatsoever, to lenders who give an agreement in principle but change their minds when the buyer has found a property. And I hate to say it, agents who don’t ask the right questions to find out the correct situation. There are also councils who can’t get a search out quickly, ours take three weeks in Salisbury and are still done by hand.

But it’s not all bad news is it. Mortgage rates are dropping, inflation is under control, still too many buyers for too few properties, it is only a matter of time before the market starts rising again. Let’s just forget about the election shall we.

Featured property: Salisbury – sold for guide of £1,000,000.

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