Jamie McNeill is the Head of Residential at CKD Galbraith in Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh property market has continued to show extremely positive signs of activity throughout the final quarter of 2015 and into the first quarter of 2016.
Overall the market for good quality properties is strong, with demand outweighing supply and as a result we are seeing premium prices being achieved at all price levels. One and two bedroom flats between £200,000 and £500,000 are extremely popular in areas such as the New Town, West End, Stockbridge, Comely Bank, Morningside and Bruntsfield.
Towards the end of 2015, we saw buyer and seller confidence at the upper end of the market – £750,000 plus – start to return following the introduction of LBTT last year, with an increase in the number of properties coming on to the market in Edinburgh.
In particular, family homes and townhouses in areas with excellent local schooling and amenities, such as the New Town, Inverleith, Colinton, Morningside, Barnton and Cramond have performed particularly well, with CKD Galbraith achieving premium prices for a number of properties in these areas.
With the tax changes for properties over £1 million, the number of sales at this level is considerably lower than at its peak in March 2015 pre-LBTT, however we are experiencing a rise in the number of local, national and international buyers registering with our office looking for prime property in Edinburgh, and we expect the number of transactions at this level to continue to increase steadily in 2016.
The property market in the wider Lothians area has also seen a significant improvement in the last 18 months. Midlothian saw the highest percentage rise in the number of sales across Scotland in Q4, up more than 30 per cent on the same period last year, and we are experiencing an increase in demand from buyers looking for property in a rural setting, yet within easy reach of Edinburgh.
Despite the market as a whole having endured some significant changes over the last year, with the introduction of the LBTT and a three per cent levy on second homes coming into play this April, we are witnessing a very encouraging picture in Edinburgh and The Lothians so far for the start of 2016, which should be further enhanced as we approach the prime spring selling period.
Liz Agar is the Branch Manager at Bagshaws Residential in Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Bakewell is a beautiful, historic market town, nestled in the heart of the Peak District surrounded by stunning countryside and an eclectic mix of towns, villages and hamlets. With an abundance of countryside walks and cycle trails, other outdoor activities, local landmarks and of course the famous Bakewell Pudding, the town and surrounding areas are popular with residents and visitors.
Our patch is huge, and we cover everywhere from Ashbourne up to Matlock, the borders of Chesterfield and Sheffield, and across to Hope Valley and Buxton. We are lucky to work with an assortment of property types due to covering such a widespread area, with everything from quaint chocolate box cottages and listed stone built houses to Victorian and Georgian style homes and even equestrian properties. This brings in a variety of buyers, but mainly those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of big towns and cities and seeking a quieter life in a tranquil setting.
Unsurprisingly, Bakewell is a hotspot for retirees who can benefit from a more relaxed lifestyle with easy access to all the amenities the town has to offer. We have fantastic primary and secondary schools which are producing excellent Ofsted ratings and attracting a lot of younger families who then tend to stay in the area until after their children leave school. Also, as would be expected of any area like this, Bakewell is very popular for second homes and holiday cottages, and so investors are another of our primary customers.
The market here is steady at the moment, generally both house and rental prices are stable compared to other areas in the UK. We find that once here, residents stay for well over 10 years and even pass property down through the generations. This, alongside strict planning regulations preventing the construction of new builds in the Peak District National Park, has created a shortage in housing supply – although the rental sector has not seen as much of an impact as the sales business. Currently, properties most in demand in Bakewell are single storey bungalows and barn conversions – popular amongst older buyers, and family homes offering gardens and private parking for those families moving to the area.
Although no longer served by a railway station, Bakewell is still a popular destination for commuters and is within easy reach of Sheffield, Chesterfield and Manchester. It also benefits from excellent bus services to nearby towns and cities, so residents are never short of things to do or places to go.
Chris Jarrett is the Head of Residential Sales at Savills in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Cheltenham is characterised by a marvellous array of Georgian, Regency and Victorian property that make it one of the most elegant towns in England. It sits on the threshold to the Cotswolds and is surrounded by a collection of desirable villages and country homes.
Regency villas and Victorian terraces dominate the town market, with prices from £500,000 to £1.5 million. There is a good choice of newbuild apartments and conversions at schemes including Century Court from £300,000. For classic Cotswold villages, our buyers look to the Slaughters, Shipton Oliffe, Cowley, Naunton or Broadway.
Buyers choose Cheltenham as it has some of the best schools in the country, including Cheltenham College, The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Dean Close School, St Edward’s RC School and sought-after state schools, such as Pates Grammar Secondary School, with a rich cultural scene including internationally renowned literature and jazz festivals and Cheltenham Race festival. A John Lewis superstore is planned which is likely to maintain the strength of the high street.
However, in comparison to other locations in the West Country, such as Bristol and Bath, Cheltenham offers relatively strong value for money. Prime values in the heart of Montpellier and Tivoli can reach between £400 and £500 per sq ft, whereas in the very best locations in Bath, for example, prices can reach the heights of £750 to £800 per sq ft. This undoubtedly makes Cheltenham an attractive proposition for buyers seeking prime property in a heritage location with rail links to London in just over two hours.
Cheltenham is an aspirational town. Local buyers dominate across the price bands with the majority upsizing – 48 per cent over the last three years – and a further 24 per cent relocating. Meanwhile, purchasers from Greater London account for 12 per cent of buyers in the £750,000-plus market and 7 per cent of our buyers since 2013 have come from overseas.
We have had an exceptionally busy start to the year. With a smaller proportion of investor and second home buyers than its regional counter parts, we see this not so much as a result of a rush to purchase in time for the increase in stamp duty for additional properties, but more as a sign of a popular and buoyant market.
With good quality stock and steadily growing prices, Cheltenham has much to offer both the vendor and purchaser.