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West Country Property Market: Spring Review

Ben Stephens, Partner and Branch Manager at Stags, shares his thoughts on the current position of the property market and what the coming months may bring.

Whilst discussions of the property market seem unimportant during these uncertain times, I have been asked to share my thoughts on the current position and forecast what lies ahead in the coming months.

The property website Rightmove has recently released ‘The 10 most searched-for locations in 2021’, with Devon and Cornwall taking two of the top three positions and Dorset ranking 10th. The lead spot was taken by London, however, the difference between London and Cornwall was just 3%, compared to a gap of 24% in 2020 and 49% in 2019. These statistics succinctly tell us all we need to know about how people are thinking differently and, above all, where they want to live.

Respected House Price Indices produced by Halifax and Nationwide show annual national house price growth of between 10.8% and 12.6% and it is clear from our own figures that the West Country is running ahead of these. The property market hasn’t just survived the pandemic, it has positively thrived.

Underpinning the picture is a lack of supply, with most industry surveys continuing to show a dearth of new properties being listed. Whilst new stock is coming as we enter the Spring market, it is just not enough to keep pace with demand, a fact borne out by the last quarter seeing a 3.5% increase in prices across the South West (Halifax).

To date in 2022, Stags has seen a 72% increase in the appraisals of property compared to the same time in 2021, however, instruction levels are only 27% ahead. In turn, demand has escalated as buyers actively seek their family home or West Country retreat. Competitive bidding is still very much part of the sale process, with many of Stags’ recent sales at or above the guide price; the highest percentage paid over the guide being 34% for a Cornish waterside home.

So, at this point in time, it is almost as if nobody has told the property market about the economic and geopolitical headwinds that are heading our way. The Ukraine invasion, inflation, squeezed household finances, escalating energy prices and rising interest rates are all factors that will impact later in the year.

Market conditions are therefore likely to be at their peak over the next few months, with many disappointed buyers from 2021 and new entrants to the marketplace, combined with a low supply of new stock.

Our advice is to strike whilst the market still has significant momentum and prepare your property for sale now. Your local Stags office would be delighted to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the market, an accurate appraisal of your home and talk through initiatives such as the London and Country Property Show on 10th May, a fabulous opportunity to promote your property directly to London and Home Counties buyers.

Contact your local Stags office here