Country House Demand Points to Growth

Tuesday, August 3 2004

The prosperous economy, as well as a lack of supply, has led to optimism at Hamptons, in spite of an early summer slowdown. The enduring demand for period country houses, even during the height of the holiday season, is normally regarded as an early indicator for a strong market.

The estate agents have predicted that due to the comparatively low interest rates and strong economic growth forecasts, the property market will pick up in September after the traditional summer lull.

Furthermore, while the number of new households being built is falling to lows not seen since the 1950s, the demand side of the equation has never been stronger, with record numbers of new house holds being created by divorce, the later age of marriage, and record immigration from Europe. This is also placing upward pressure on the market.

Hamptons predicts that values will increase over the next few years, but at a modest level rather than the rapid growth of recent times. They anticipate ?price stability? for the remainder of 2004 in London, while in the rest of the south they expect an overall median house price growth of around 7%

The estate agent blames the early seasonal slowdown on the negative comments on the property market made by Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, in June.

One reason for Hamptons? bullish attitude is the strength of the top end of the market, which is usually an early indicator for the rest of the market. ?Period country houses remain in constant demand, even during this traditionally quieter peak holiday period. Guide prices are being or close to being achieved, often with 2 or 3 reserve buyers in the wings,? said John Webb, Country House Director for Thames Valley & Chilterns.

Hamptons International