2013 property forecast - what's next for property in the Home Counties?

Sunday 25th November 2012

Last week Choices Today gathered expert views on prospects for the property market in London next year, but what does the New Year hold for other parts of the UK?

This week, we talk to industry professionals and ask their predictions for property market in the Home Counties.

Demand for residential properties in the Home Counties is generally expected to increase next year, as more people look to move to counties outside London as sellers take advantage of the wide price gap between the two, according to Strutt & Parker.

Mark Jamieson, head of Strutt & Parker’s Guildford office, says: “We are heading into 2013 with increased viewing numbers, while the number of new applicants registering with us is also up. This has lifted estate agents’ spirits and vendor and purchasers’ moods have lightened. There is a general murmur in the market place that there may never be a better time to move to the country in terms of value for money, and I believe next year we will see even more families flocking to commuter belt areas within the Home Counties.

“The economic outlook remains challenging, and forecasts for growth are still sluggish for the next two years. This inevitably impacts the residential housing market. It is hard to see any significant short term economic boosts for market growth across the UK however as confidence creeps up, so too will activity.”

Jamieson also projects that that there will be a continued decline of interest in refurbishment projects coupled with increasing concern about homes’ eco-friendly elements.

“Environmentally friendly, modern homes that require no work are replacing the Old Rectory as the new ‘dream home’ as people’s priorities change,” said Jamieson. “Eco-sensitive houses and properties that are extremely cheap to run with new energy saving systems in place will do particularly well in 2013. We will see increased demand from both ends of the market – downsizers looking for the perfect home to move into with no additional costs, and families looking to move up to the next run of the ladder.”

Meanwhile Brendan Cox, managing director of Waterfords, believes that the year ahead will follow in a similar vein to 2012 and there will be modest increases in property prices of 1.5-2%.

Coz comments: “Certainly within all the areas [Home Counties] that we operate in and also all segments of the market; lower, middle and upper, we can report that prices did climb up slightly when compared to 2011, or they did at least remain stable in a couple of selective postcodes. Taking into consideration inflation levels and the ongoing banking situation where lenders are reluctant to lend, the year ahead is going to be very alike to the one we have just had.”

When reflecting back on the private rented sector, Cox says that 2012 was extremely buoyant with Waterfords reporting a 15% increase in their property portfolio over the 12 month period. Brendan believes this to be a result of a combination of more investors purchasing buy-to-let properties and the continued presence of accidental landlords.

He adds: “The increase in investors has come from cash rich buyers who have been unconvinced that locking their money away or investing it elsewhere will provide a good enough return. Property has been the safest haven for them and evidence in rental returns achieved has proved them to be correct. It has been reported and it is right to say that many currently are international investors, and this is a testament to how robust the market is in the areas that we work in.

“Accidental landlords are still helping things move along and this will be the case for some time to come as many househunters lack the confidence to make a purchase. There is still very much a trend of ‘double renters’ where new landlords are going on to rent a smaller property. However, we have seen a real mixture and some landlords have had the ability to raise the funds to go on and buy a home.”

James Wyatt, owner of Barton Wyatt in Virginia Water and chairman of the Surrey region of the National Association of Estate Agents, comments: “The UK will remain a magnet for international buyers, and not just in London. Generally those areas in the Home Counties which are 20 to 30 miles from central London will continue to be targeted.

“Property in these beautiful areas not far from London looks a bargain at the moment and we expect to see further investment from Far Eastern buyers and a continuing number of buyers looking to live here, particularly from Malaysia and increasingly from China.”

Finally, Adam Day of Hatched.co.uk, estimates that property transactions in the Homes Counties will rise during the first six months, helping to push property prices up by as much as 2% next year. But he believes that 2013 will see the demise of the high street agent, which is somewhat unsurprising, given that Hatched.co.uk is an online-only estate agent.

 “High street estate agents will face ever stronger competition from their online counterparts in 2013,” he said. “By cutting overheads and streamlining processes, online estate agents will account for over 10% of the market within the next two years, putting 1,400 high street agents out of business. For every online estate agent that opens, nine high street agents will close, saving the public approximately £350m in unnecessary fees.”


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