Market Report – 4th Quarter 2014

It has been a very interesting year for the property market in Canterbury and the surrounding villages. The first half of the year was extremely busy and saw some very handsome prices being achieved, with buyer demand quite incredible to behold! A shortage of property coming onto the market further fuelled a sharp rise in prices, and there were some very happy vendors indeed! It was interesting to see some buyers factoring in a ‘future value’ when they made an offer, and being willing to pay over the asking price at the beginning of negotiations in order to knock other potential buyers out of the picture.

The second half of the year has seen a gentle slowdown in activity, and there are both local and national reasons for this. Stricter mortgage lending rules came into force in late spring, and there is a feeling that lenders are ‘cherry-picking’ with regard to providing mortgages with the best rates only to those applicants with the squeakiest of squeaky clean credit ratings without necessarily making this clear at the outset of the application process….. Locally the buy to let market for student properties in Canterbury has seen a decline in the levels of demand, and it was obvious that there was a significant number of un-let rooms, if not entire houses, in the classic student let areas of Canterbury this year.

The Bank of England are also looking at other ways of making sure the housing market does not run away with itself to the detriment of the wider economy. It is increasingly clear that the old method of simply raising interest rates is increasingly looking very much like a blunt instrument in terms of ways of taking heat out of the housing market, especially when there do not appear to be other inflationary pressures. Indeed businesses and other groups/commentators are strongly of the view that a rapid rise in interest rates are likely to choke off what is still a fairly soft economic recovery.

Vendors would be well advised to listen to the advice of competent estate agents (they do exist, I promise you) when setting the asking price on their property. I suspect 2015 will be fairly flat in terms of property price rises, especially as we have the uncertainty of what appears to be at the time of writing a wide-open general election, but the advice remains consistent – choose a good agent with extensive local knowledge and work with them in the search for a buyer by keeping their property presented to a good standard and offered for sale at a competitive price. Buyers should make sure they make friends of local agents and make sure as far as possible that agents give them a call before the properties they are interested in reach the internet – the sort of buyers that phone up every week (or even more frequently in some cases!) to see what is coming on the market, far from being a nuisance, tend to get told about new properties first!