Roger Wilkinson (left) is Managing Director, Wilkinson Grant, in Exeter, Devon.
An early Easter coupled with unseasonal weather did little to curb activity in the local housing market, in what is traditionally the first seasonal “spike” of the year kin the property business (and a time when out-of-area buyers take the opportunity of a West Country holiday break to check out the local property market).
A recent Sunday Times report listing the City edge, Exe Estuary town of Topsham as one of the best places to live in the South West further fuelled already high demand for property in this sought after location, but no more so than enquiries from buyers looking in all price ranges across the City as a whole.
The Chancellor’s ‘Help-to-Buy’ scheme, announcing mortgage guarantees for those buying new homes and shared equity loans for fi rst and ‘second-steppers’ have already triggered an increase in enquiries – despite the latter not due to take effect until 2014. Despite the low temperatures, the local property market is certainly warming up, with a long awaited increase in properties coming to the market for the fi rst time still not keeping pace with demand and as a result prices edging up ever so slightly.
A similar picture is emerging in the rental sector with a ‘new breed’ of tenants seeing renting as their preferred option, swapping mortgage aspirations for flexibility and mobility in their choice of property and location. More young people are seeing sharing a rental home as a positive lifestyle choice and ‘betweenmovers’ happy to settle for a rental home while they continue their search are helping keep demand high. Properties to rent are still currently in short supply keeping rents at a level that are increasingly attractive to Buyto-Let landlords – who, in turn, are helping fuel the market in the lower to mid-range. As has been the case for the last few years with the 18,000 student university f rmly holding its place in the UK’s Top 10, demand for high quality student accommodation is also attracting both local and national investors.
Hayley Wilson (left) is Estate Agency and Valuations Manager at Milne Moser, Kendal, Cumbria
The South Lakes area has always been a popular location for those seeking a lifestyle change and although demand has slowed, second homeowners are still keen to secure their ‘piece of the Lakes’. The market is a ected by the slow down, however this is always going to be a desirable part of the world to live in and demand is still buoyant. Tourism remains a major employer with a large concentration of hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday lets throughout the Lakes, although jobs are scarce and average earnings in the area are relatively low. This makes home buying di cult for the first time buyer, as house prices remain relatively high in comparison to incomes. This has increased the need for low cost housing in the area and various new build schemes are in the pipeline.
There is still strong demand from investors with the o er of a good return on rental properties, generally with a longer term let being preferred by tenants. Because of the high rent to earnings ratio, presently younger tenants are finding it difficult to obtain satisfactory references and a guarantor is often required.
Local people are very passionate about their area and once resident people tend to stay. The area boasts excellent transport links for commuters with the mainline train station linking Euston Station and Glasgow and junction 36 of the M6 motorway on the doorstep creating easy access to the West Coast and North Lakes, Manchester and the South.
We are lucky enough to be involved in the marketing of a great variety of properties, from traditional bank barns and Westmorland slate cottages to purpose built flats and shared equity homes. Milne Moser deals with a wide array of different buyers and as our geographical area is wide, our staff have to have a vast knowledge of the local area.
Ken Bird (left) is Managing Director at Renton & Parr in Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Wetherby is set in the heart of the Golden Triangle between Leeds, Harrogate and York, ideal for commuters to the business centres or travelling further on the motorway network. Now bypassed by the A1 and equidistant to London and Edinburgh, the town has enjoyed an important position on the great highway since the day of the stagecoach.
Nestling on the banks of the River Wharfe the area is rich in local history and is the perfect location for many reasons. Excellent road networks, good schools and beautiful scenery are here. Housing styles cater for all, although first time buyers struggle with prices starting at £100,000 plus for a one bedroom fl at, £140,000 plus for two bedroom town house or terrace and £175,000 plus for a three bedroom semi.
Popular four bedroom family houses sell from £250,000 upwards and the most expensive property on the market at the moment is £4,500,000! The market has been slow but we have had our busiest start for six years. There were signs of movement on the best priced properties during the last six months of 2012 but the feeling is that people have waited long enough for the market to recover on prices and this year they will get on with their lives. An increase in the level of new instructions giving a bit more choice for buyers has seen viewings go through the roof. Although many have a house to sell themselves there are a surprising number of cash buyers competing for the best properties.
One property that we put to the market in late January attracted over 70 viewings resulting in over 10 offers, selling well over the £350,000 guide price by sealed bids. Confidence is the key and given our location, choice of property and sensible prices 2013 looks set to be a return to more normal trading conditions.