WALSALL, WEST MIDLANDS
MATTHEW MOORE CPEA, FNAEA, MARLA, DipHI.
Director, Edwards Moore The Estate Agency
Edwards Moore The Estate Agency has two estate agency offices in Walsall and Aldridge, a large lettings department managing 600 properties and the Auction House franchise for Birmingham and the Black Country.
Well, what a start to the year, after feeling like we should have closed the doors in mid November. December brought a much needed increase in instructions and a steady flow of interest, resulting in a 20 per cent increase in sales month on month. The market since January has shown quite a variance between our two offices despite the fact that they are only four miles apart; the Walsall office saw a relatively slow start to the year which rose to a crescendo by mid-February. Aldridge by contrast started the year with a bang but seems to have petered out. We are still seeing a dramatic lack of availability of stock combined with strong demand for realistically priced properties, so despite an improving market price continues to be a sensitive factor.
Our auction department echoes this trend, fewer entries in our February sale, which, however, achieved a 92 per cent success rate averaging 18 per cent above guide. In my opinion the improving sales market is the cause of fewer auction instructions. Our Lettings department is focusing on retention of landlord clients as we see individuals trying to increase their portfolios before the introduction of the extra buy-to-let stamp duty. This has also lead to some frenzied buying for ‘investor’ properties in our sales department.
Legislation change implications continue to keep the Lettings department on its toes, however we are continuing to notice a decline in instructions in this area. The market is becoming more and more competitive as online market share begins to grow in our area although the impact has been less significant than some commentators predicted. New start up independent agents are adding to price competition having lower overheads and no VAT however we have found that by being confident about our fee levels and levels of customer service we have actually increased market share over the last three months by four per cent. We now boast more SSTC than available properties within the firm – not a situation we are comfortable with. I believe we are entering another transitional period when the buy-to-let stamp duty surcharge is introduced and we are holding our breath to see what impact this has on all departments. We feel the market will remain strong due to the stable interest rates, however as the EU referendum looms it offers another element of uncertainty which the market could do without. So we will continue to keep our heads down and get on with what we are doing.
WELSHPOOL, MID WALES
Valuer, Morris Marshall & Poole
Morris Marshall & Poole is a traditional estate agency partnership, established in 1862 and the team is delighted that their long tradition of experience and professionalism has been recognised with exclusive membership of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Their office network reaches from Welshpool on the border right across Mid-Wales to Aberystwyth on the coast.
Morris Marshall & Poole covers a vast geographical area but the population is sparse and the properties very diverse, the Practice is therefore wide ranging with departments covering residential and commercial sales and letting; chartered surveying; planning; land management and a large agricultural division.
No two situations are ever the same so you have to be ready for the unexpected, in these situations there is no substitute for local knowledge and that is what we have in abundance, most of our professional staff have trained, qualified and made their careers within the firm.
Our homebuyers may come from around the corner or across the world and this is why our membership of The Guild is so useful, it gives us more reach and reassures our clients that they are dealing with a company that understands their needs and is doing everything it can for them.
A good example is the property pictured in Llangynog, Powys. This Grade II Listed farmhouse retains a near original early 19th century appearance but inside you find the unexpected, with the living accommodation extending into a stunning modern barn conversion.
Marketing a property like this needs much more than a simple listing on Rightmove, you have to engage potential buyers in a more proactive way to ensure they see past the obvious. The resources available to us through membership of The Guild, such as the ability to hold a property exhibition in London, produce quality local and regional magazines and undertake very well targeted marketing campaigns will compliment the skills of our staff perfectly.
We are very lucky in that we work in a beautiful part of the country but it brings with it a particular set of challenges, we have to be ready for these and also for developments in the wider property market.
DARTMOOR, MID DEVON
Owner, Sawdye & Harris
Located between Exeter and Plymouth is the breathtaking and sought after Dartmoor National Park. Dartmoor’s landscape is dramatic from its striking granite tors to steep wooded river valleys and from swathes of heather covered moorland to tucked away villages and hamlets. It is a land of contrasts – some people come to experience the tranquillity by getting away from it all, whilst others come to get active.
Dartmoor covers 365 square miles and we sell a diverse range of properties from chocolate box cottages which are built of traditional cob and thatch, farmhouses and Devon Longhouses, through to imposing Georgian residences.
Since the start of 2016 we have found many buyers pooling resources across the generations to “get the good life” with a substantial property with land and buildings, ideal for sharing between two families. The draw of the West Country is strong and is a favoured location for those relocating from London particularly now that Exeter Airport offers daily flights to the capital in less than an hour.
The market has picked up considerably since the start of February with appraisals up 18 per cent compared with this time last year. Where properties are realistically marketed then full asking prices are often being achieved and exceed, as it really is a sellers market given the lack of stock being listed at present. Landed property continues to be highly sought after, particularly equestrian property, positioned in rural yet accessible locations.
We have seen an increase of commercial property coming to the market in the West Country this year, with many entrepreneurs interested in living the dream in Devon and looking at their lifestyle. However, we have seen this tempered somewhat by the difficulty this type of buyer faces when looking to take up a commercial mortgage.
The lettings market continues to thrive with great demand for 3-4 bedroom houses which start at £750pcm rising to £1800pcm. We have seen an increase in demand over the past three-four weeks for all types of rental property and demand is still outstripping supply. There is great demand for 1-2 bedroom properties in rural villages but these rarely come to the market and when they do are often snapped up very quickly.