Mark Jamieson, Strutt & Parker
Three things have happened in the market so far this year: the imbalance between supply and demand has gone, there’s a slight sense of buyer fatigue, which means that they are feeling no sense of urgency when it comes to making decisions, and there’s been a genuine correction of prices since the spike in values that we saw between March and June last year.
The emergency budget hasn’t had much of an impact on our buyers because they work in the private sector, which took its hit two years ago, and they’ve been used to cutting costs accordingly. The market up to £3 million the ‘affordable country-house market’-is very strong, but anything above that is tough.
That’s because although you can value a £2 million house to within 50p, anything much above that tends to be a one-off and if there aren’t buyers out there competing for it, the real value is almost impossible to determine.
Crispin Holborow, Savills
At the beginning of the year, we advised our clients to go to the market relatively early, believing that the election wouldn’t make much difference. That was born out by the number of pages taken by us in Country Life throughout April and May. This has paid off: to date, it’s been the strongest time that the market has experienced since early 2008 and we’re closing on lots of good deals.
Sales have given vendors confidence that there’s life out there-they don’t have to just listen to us, they can see it for themselves. And, although there’s some concern about the economy, most of our buyers are looking to the medium and long term and don’t have a problem buying now because, over time, property values will increase. Certainly, on the estate side, buyers are saying that land is as good an asset as any other.
John Young, Chesterton Humberts
On the ground, I’m having conversations on a daily basis with people who are saying that now we’ve got the election and the budget out of the way, it’s time to move. They’re mentally getting into gear to push ahead with plans and the attitude tends to be quite fatalistic in terms of prices: they are what they are.
I’m also hearing an awful lot from downsizers who are keen to realise some equity in their homes by finding something smaller and more manageable. I expect we’ll see quite a bit of stock coming on the market in September, but I don’t think anything dramatic will happen to house prices for the time being.
Rupert Sweeting, Knight Frank
This is certainly a bizarre market: some houses are selling at 20% more than their asking prices, but others are struggling. Hampshire is proving the most popular county at the moment, followed by Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, but if you head north of Banbury, it’s stickier. Now that we’re past all the various hurdles of this year, I’m telling my clients that there are no excuses any longer not to go the market, but when it comes to putting in bids, buyers are still nervous and they want the confidence of a competitive situation to reassure them. The problem with that approach, of course, is that you can end up spending more than you needed on the house instead of being bold at the beginning.
John Denney, Hamptons International
We’ve had the recession, the general election, and the emergency budget. It would seem that there’s nothing left to wait for, and would-be buyers who have sat on the fence for the past
two years are keen to move house. We are, however, seeing a gradual shift towards a buyers’ market accelerated by rising stock levels, up 5% year on year. Long-term applicants, some who have been registered for two years of more, are, albeit slowly, reaching decisions. Business has been steady, but we’re now sensing some caution creeping back in, and some fragility in buyer confidence and greater price sensitivity has been noted.