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Agent diaries: uncertainty in sales, thank god for lettings

Each month we visit three agents across the country to discover what is happening in their businesses and local market. This month we meet members of The Guild of Property Professionals in Huntingdon, London and Sussex.

The Negotiator

James Hodgson imageJAMES HODGSON
Partner, Oliver James Property Sales & Lettings

Oliver James Property Sales & Lettings was established in 2014 and is an independent estate agent offering sales and property management services throughout the Cambridgeshire area. The last 12 months have certainly been keeping us busy, since moving to our new Huntingdon town centre office in early 2016 we have pushed forward in terms of the volume of properties taken on for sale and rent. We are also most definitely in the traditional estate agent mould, we much prefer to meet a client face to face than hide behind a computer screen or telephone.

Huntingdon, Cambridge, property image

STATS: Average Sale Price: £249,450 Instruction to Sale: 79% Average Rental Price: £791pcm

To date a large proportion of our clients have been recommended our services by either family or friends and I would like to believe that this is testament to the high standard we have set, something that we are extremely proud of. In 2016, we were delighted to be chosen as the representative of the Guild of Property Professionals in Huntingdon for continual high standards and service to our clients.

Huntingdon remains a popular town location with easy access to the A1 and A14 road networks as well as being in the commuter belt, with direct train services into Kings Cross Station allowing travelling times of under an hour into the capital. Over the last couple of years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people moving to the town from Cambridge. As property prices in Cambridge city centre have continued to increase, it appears to have priced out a lot of individuals for both sales and lettings from living there.

The guided bus route, opened in 2011, has enabled quicker travelling time between Huntingdon and Cambridge and the hope is that the pain being currently felt by drivers along the A14 will be worth it in the long run, as the upgrades will hopefully result in a more reliable commute between the two.

Huntingdon in it’s own right continues to evolve as a town, attracting new businesses and residents. A new town centre shopping centre, just off the high street is due for completion shortly, whilst the new housing development and enterprise zone just north of Huntingdon at Alconbury Weald continues to grow apace.

Whilst Huntingdon has a thriving rental market we have observed a decrease in the number of buy to let investors showing interest in the 1-3 bedroom properties that we bring to the market. The changes in stamp duty, tax relief for Landlords and the increase in red tape has, from our figures at least, suppressed this sector. You seemingly have to work a lot harder nowadays to source a property that could produce a return in excess of six per cent.


Paul Spencer imagePAUL SPENCER
Victor Michael Estate Agents

Victor Michael is an agency in the London area with four offices: Stratford, Leytonstone, Canning Town and Barking. It was founded in 1988 and covers a very significant patch.

London property image

STATS: Average Sales Price: £500,000 Average Letting Price: £1650 pcm Average Viewings: 77

At the moment our Canning Town and Barking offices are doing well, with an average of 112 viewings per month and with the average sale price around £305,000. In other areas the market is unseasonally quiet. Of course, this could be down to many things, however we feel the biggest factor is uncertainty.

The worst market for an estate agent is one with an uncertain immediate future and, while we are still seeing the regular core people move due to circumstances such as death, divorce, new job and so on, a lot of our sales in the past were people who didn’t have an immediate need to sell but put their property on the market just to see if they could achieve a price which they would consider selling at.

This of course does not help us build up stocks.

There is great demand for the properties that are actually for sale but until there the uncertainty dies down it looks as though it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.

That being said, with so many potential vendors playing the waiting game unsure of what the future will bring, this could be the ideal time to sell property and achieve a figure that surpasses expectations.

Supply and demand is not a new concept however we find that as more potential vendors wait and see what will happen with Britain’s economic future, the demand for property still grows ever bigger.

Vendors could have a small window of opportunity to use this to their advantage as all too soon the window may close with the influx of investment properties we expect to come on to the sales market, then the supply will be met and prices will equalise.


Chris Mayhew imageCHRIS MAYHEW
Director, Mayhew Estates

Mayhew Estates is an award winning independent Sales and Letting agency based in Surrey and Sussex. We operate out of three locations, Horsham, East Grinstead and Horley. We sell and let a wide variety of properties from flats to country homes and everything in-between. The towns and villages we cover benefit from excellent commuter links in to London and the South Coast.

Surrey and Sussex property images

STATS: Average sale price £375k Average rental £1,250 Average viewings per month 700 Average sales per month 30

The start to 2017 has been a little challenging with Brexit negotiations on the table and an emergency election causing buyers to feel a little uneasy. With stock availability still low, quality buyers remain keen and viewing levels are encouraging. Buyers are still snapping up quality homes within catchment areas of the best schools within walking distance of a mainline railway station.

As buyers are forced out of London due to high prices, they look to areas within forty minutes’ commute of London. House prices have remained static in the first quarter of this year with predicted increases of between two and four per cent during 2017. Now the election is over we hope we will have a clearer outlook and the market should be more predictable.

Our Lettings department has had a very busy start to the year. Tenants are queuing up for the best properties and willing to pay the asking price. Landlords appear to be coming back to the market with caution as the long-term forecast for interest rates remains low. Landlords are no longer able to offset their mortgage interest against the rental income, and we expect this will deter some landlords from purchasing further properties.

In summary, we will have to work hard during this year and adapt to a changing market. We are pleased to see price increases slowing as this will hopefully encourage more buyers to take the plunge. April’s results have matched that of 2016, this is a very encouraging sign.

August 2, 2017

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