Norfolk, Anglesey & Gwynedd and Staffordshire
Activity levels have been encouraging for the start of the year with a higher volume of viewings this year than for the same period last year. Taking into account the large geographical area we cover, our stock is very varied – as is our applicant register. Our stock ranges from a substantial contemporary house with stunning views at £1.5 million through to a one bedroomed flat on offer in our next auction with a guide of £8,000.
Sales continue to show encouraging levels for realistically priced property with demand being seen in the early part of the year from purchasers still looking at moving into the investment market and one investment property already having achieved an agreed sale this month in excess of the asking price.
Furthermore interest continues to grow in vendors considering alternative methods of sale with a high level of enquiries being received for the varied auction lots we are offering in our February auction.
There are also early signs of first time buyers coming back to the market place with the advent of 95 per cent mortgages returning at more affordable interest rates. The price reductions seen for this type of property means that the average two-bed terraced house is offered for sale in the region of £100,000.
Demand for rental accommodation continues to outstrip supply and the seasonal influx of students looking to secure accommodation for the next academic year seems to have appeared earlier than ever, with a noticeable demand from overseas students. More enquires are being received from landlords looking at using managed services due to bad tenant experiences in the past and the proposed changes being put forward for the private rental market in Wales. With the increased demand being shown for all types of rental properties rental levels have been on an upward trend, and with these increased yields, more and more purchasers are considering this type of property as a sensible long-term option.
The proposed Wylfa B nuclear power station continues to effect the market on the north of the island as both vendors and purchasers hold back to see what if any impact such a proposal will have to house values in the area once a timescale for the development is confirmed.
Lichfield is waiting for a major planned shopping development to start but it seems no nearer to being funded. Recently Debenhams has taken over a large vacant department store, due to open in April and a significant town centre hotel and apartment scheme is underway with completion due at the end of 2013. All good news for the city. The area has a substantial tourist trade because of the Cathedral and its central location. We are affected by the spectre of the HS2 Rail scheme in the medium term which impacts on some property in the surrounding villages. However, a major scheme for Whittington Barracks to become home to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency, the Defence Medical Services Training Centre and 33 Field Hospital. This should bring hundreds of specialist employment opportunities and a potential knock on effect to the property market.
The FA has also opened the new £80 million National Football Training centre just to the north of Lichfield. Exciting times ahead for this beautiful Cathedral city.
The market remains challenging with a shortage of good stock. Sales have been good but pricing as ever is key to an efficient sale. Recent heavy snow across the region has impacted on activity but once it clears it is expected that we will see a healthy level of activity more in line with January and February expectations.
The market is dominated by the mature, often retired seller, looking to trade down a little but lacks the corresponding younger aspirational buyer looking to trade up. A tricky impasse ensues. First time buyer activity remains subdued but there has been a distinct increase in investor and buy-to-let purchasers recently.
Norfolk is a beautiful county, blessed with its well known broads and waterways and 100 miles of stunning coastline and beaches. Holiday homes are always sought, and the gentle way of life still brings holiday destination and lifestyle seekers here. With nine branches across Norfolk, Arnolds Keys LLP is the largest independent estate agency. From its coastal branches in Sheringham and Cromer, you can travel inland via the highly prized holiday areas served by Holt and Wroxham offices, and to the busy market towns of Aylsham and North Walsham, ending up the historic city of Norwich, with its famous Cathedral and castle. Norwich is well known for its financial services employment base. Aviva (formerly Norwich Union) is part of the fabric of life here, as is Marsh, Virgin and Sedgwick. There have been nips and cuts here and there with redundancies, but again not on the catastrophic scale of other parts of the country.
Norfolk has not suffered an extreme roller coaster property ride, it feels the pain, but with a high percentage of retired residents and relatively low unemployment, the impact has been in ripples, rather than waves. Average house prices are £185,000-£190,000. Transactions above £700,000 are currently few and far between – even more rare over £1m.
Lettings remain buoyant with three to six applicants for each property, and voids down to an average of three days. Highest demand is for two-bed units which can range from £450-£900, depending on location.
Transactions are down about 50 per cent against 2007 and, as they say around here, when there’s a smaller pie for dinner, the table manners begin to deteriorate – fees have been impacted by poorer agents undercutting, some at one per cent and lower, then underdelivering on service, but the average for Arnolds Keys across the county was about 1.3 per cent last month.