Good afternoon everyone,
What an end to a month, and indeed the first quarter, we have just had. As the month drew to a close we had a perfect storm whereby investors and 2nd home purchasers raced to the line to avoid the 3% extra stamp duty payable from April 1st, whilst vendors were hugely motivated to get their sales completed to avoid the possibility of price chipping or pull outs from their buyers should they to miss the deadline. For a change, we were not alone in hounding solicitors to get deals done, and what a pleasant scenario that proved to be. We had some solicitors cancelling holidays, and many worked late into the night to get sales exchanged and completed. By Friday morning the results were clear to see – as a company we exceeded our best ever month by a pretty large margin, and our own region ended up with exchange values nearly 50% higher than any other month. Of course there was an expectation that this would be the case but I don’t think that anyone thought the figures would be quite so huge.
With such a big month in terms of exchanges it was assumed that our pipelines would be severely depleted, however we were pleased to see a really decent month in terms of sales agreed as well. Whilst some areas that rely heavily on investor sales will almost certainly see a pause for breath over the next couple of months, my own cluster of offices are much less dependant on this market so we are not expecting there to be any major repercussions from the increase in stamp duty. What was also interesting on Friday was that the first sale we agreed in Fulham was to a rental investor. When asked about the extra stamp duty, the buyer said “my margin is down a little but it’s business as normal as far as I’m concerned”.
Looking forward, the Spring market usually kicks in around the second or third week of April and we are expecting this year to be no exception. The weeks before and after Easter are always surprisingly quiet, but then again who wouldn’t make the most of being able to take a ten day holiday for just four days off from work? With the holidays being so early in the year I have also noticed a number of familiar faces knocking around Northcote Road this weekend with the tell-tale ‘panda eye’ tans of recent ski trips and all of the local schools will still be on holiday for another week at least. The next couple of weeks are therefore likely to continue to be reasonably restrained in terms of activity, but we would expect things to pick up towards the middle of the month. My advice to you if you are buying therefore has to be to get out there now before everyone gets back – there are a good number of places to look at and the chances are that if you act in the next couple of weeks you’ll have slightly less competition. Sellers certainly haven’t got it all their way however, as we’ve shown time and time again, it’s the well presented, keenly priced stock that always attracts the highest number of buyers and this almost always brings you the best possible price.
There have been a number of people (almost always buyers looking for a ‘deal’) asking me about our thoughts on the referendum. It’s clearly getting its share of column inches in the papers, however I have to say that we’re not particularly feeling any real effects yet. Previous experiences of elections have shown us that the one thing the British do well is to adopt a ‘wait & see’ approach to these type of events, sitting firmly on our hands and waiting for an outcome before returning to business as usual, however we are certainly not seeing any of that just yet. Ultimately the decision itself is out of our hands and even if we do decide to leave, it may well be a number of years before final terms are hammered out. In that event it’s unlikely that buyers or sellers will leave their lives on the shelf for years on end, and so whilst the vote itself will no doubt be a momentary distraction for a few weeks in the run up, we are not anticipating any dramatic changes in activity for at least the next couple of months.
As ever each month we take stock of exactly what is on the market, at what price levels and how long things are taking to sell. The table below shows all of the fully available (not yet under offer) stock between the commons, from Bolingbroke Grove to Clapham Common and from Battersea Rise to Nightingale Lane:
|Type of property
on the market
|No. available last month
|Average time last month
|1 bed flat||10||91 days||£928||18||76 days||£983|
|2 bed flat||42||63 days||£911||38||78 days||£904|
|3 bed flat||11||61 days||£798||10||64 days||£773|
|House||46||74 days||£867||51||72 days||£871|
In terms of one bedroom flats there are some conflicting stats. Prices (in terms of £/sqft) seem to have reduced by some 5%, and they are taking longer to sell, however there were far fewer available on Friday. Of course this could just be that much of the available stock was snapped up last month due to the stamp duty changes, but we will definitely monitor this going forwards. There continue to be a large number of two bed flats on the market, with slightly more available this month than there were last. Time on the market has certainly reduced though which is encouraging. Three bed flats continue to be consistent, with prices and time on the market not really changing for the last few months. The house market is still showing far more houses on the market than we would normally expect (up nearly 40% on the same time last year) and the realistically priced ones are always the ones to sell first. As I said last month, the average price on exchange is £750 – £800 per square foot against asking prices of around £870 per square foot so I really cannot understand why some agents are telling potential clients that their houses are worth these figures when buyers are so price sensitive. Once again, instructing an agent on the basis of highest price, lowest fee is almost always going to be a recipe for disaster.
And that’s it for today. As ever I hope you find these updates interesting and do get in touch if you want to discuss anything property related – I’ll always find time for a chat, either in the office or over the phone.
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Area Sales Director