Estate agents report busy start to 2014, but as demand from buyers steps up, the call has gone out for new instructions.
NORTH Devon estate agents are reporting the welcome return of a ‘feel good factor’ to the local property market.
Local agents have experienced an ‘extremely busy’ start to 2014 but new found buyer confidence has meant that there are often not enough new instructions to cater for the demand.
Colin Harding of Bideford-based Harding & Co, said: “We are immensely busy, but very short of instructions on both lettings and sales.
“There is a feel good factor out there in the market now, but also a reluctance for some people to bring their properties to the market.”
Mr Harding said that many buyers were now happy to pay a full, and in many cases the asking price, for a property they like.
He added: “There is a fear returning the market, that if they don’t buy it, someone else will – we haven’t seen that type of market for quite a while.”
Nic Chbat, director of local online estate agent Match Property, said that his firm had felt the shift more than most.
“As a new agency formed just two years ago, we have felt the improvement in the marketplace in a really amplified way, perhaps more so than our more established competitors,” he said.
“Having managed a multi-branch agency in North Devon during the height of the recession, I’ve seen firsthand how low the market dropped, with huge numbers of repossessions, low mortgage lending and very few proceedable buyers actively buying.
“The market has been gradually improving since then but we have experienced significant, healthy growth in viewings and sales month-on-month, most noticeably since June 2013 through to today.
“We have seen an average 20 per cent increase in viewings every month and we currently have sales agreed at levels double the national average for an agency of our size. We expect to maintain this for the whole year to come.
“There are definitely many more proceedable buyers around but due to the wealth of information available online they are very well informed and therefore also very discerning on price.
“I expect the market to improve throughout 2014 but I think it will be very sensitive to supply and demand and therefore we are not expecting a huge price boom which to be honest I don’t think many people really want.
“A steady, sustainable improvement in price and supply of properties coming to market is achievable and in the current economic climate, most likely. If this turns out to be the case, it will be a good thing for everyone.”
Lindsay Braddick, manager of Webbers Property Services, told the Gazette that February and the beginning of March had been ‘extremely busy’ despite the poor weather conditions.
“Prices in the area have increased in line with the newly found confidence in the market and our average sales value is up 5.5 per cent in the last six-to-12 months,” she said.
“So many buyers are now able to purchase and we are now finding more buyers from out of the area urgently seeking property and it is therefore important that you use an agent who genuinely has access to out of town buyers.
“This is a market for experience to ensure your agent gets the best price and not the first buyer who walks through the door.
“With buyers ready and waiting to view properties we still urgently need a wide variety of properties to meet their demands and therefore once again getting honest advice from an agent you can trust is priority.”
Hannah Gorvett, director of Bideford-based Cowlings, said there had been a noticeable increase in activity over the past few months.
“The property market most certainly keeps us on our toes and is keeping up with its reputation of being as unpredictable as ever,” she said.
Best months for many years
“I would say there has been a noticeable increase in activity over the past few months with the latter end of last year proving to be some of our best months for many years, given the level of sales and with new instructions coming on the market and selling within a very short timescale.
“We could all do with a few more new instructions leading into the spring months where there is a more positive attitude towards the whole moving process. There is something about sunshine and flowers in the garden that concentrates the minds of many buyers and sellers.
“Our main aim is to remain as proactive as possible within the market place, realising the needs for buyers, and which areas of the market are selling well.
“We are always appealing for new instructions and vendors who can benefit from our hands on and enthusiastic approach to giving good advice and achieving the best possible prices especially given the positivity in the market.
“We have seen many ‘bubbles’ and ‘peaks and troughs’ over the past few years, and the list of clichés is endless. To ‘go with the flow’ is probably the best attitude towards the property market and we remain as optimistic as ever that given the recent activity, this year will hopefully give much of the same, and prove to be another successful year for us.”
Earlier this year, a residential market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that the number of homes sold per chartered surveyor had reached its highest point since March 2008.
With more sales now going ahead, growth in demand for rented accommodation has begun to slow significantly, as an increased number of renters decide to test the sales market.
Starting to thrive
But the survey also found that with the amount of homes coming onto the market was still nowhere near enough to meet the higher level of demand, prices continue to rise across the country.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: “The housing market is starting to thrive once more. Sales are at their highest level in almost six years and this is being reflected right across the UK. “Growing availability of affordable mortgages has released some pent-up demand from a market that, in recent years, has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market.
“On the face of it, this seems like good news but unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up for sale we could well be looking at a price rises becoming unsustainable in some areas.”