What next for the South West property market?
Simon Cooper, partner of Stags, reflects on 2018 and looks ahead to the current year for the South West property market.
Overall, 2018 proved to be a positive year for the property sales department across the 21 offices of Stags throughout the region, with a number of sales completed being similar to the previous year. But what is in store for 2019?
According to Land Registry statistics, average prices in the region have edged up during 2018. Here at Stags, we continue to see an inflow of buyers into the region. Interestingly, they are not just from London and the Home Counties but now increasingly from wider parts of the UK as well. As ever, a good proportion of Stags’ buyers purchase their properties with cash, without requiring a mortgage. We find that many of the people moving into the area have been downsizing from elsewhere and putting themselves in a non-mortgaged position.
Overall, I feel positive that 2019 will continue to be a healthy market, despite the uncertainty of all that is taking place in Westminster. Here at Stags we are already seeing properties coming onto the market being sold by owners wishing to move within the South West, whether upsizing or downsizing. In addition, a large proportion of our registered buyers currently wanting to purchase in the area are from outside the South West, which can only have a positive effect on the market.
The West Country remains a UK destination to which people aspire to move. Some make the move during their working lives, in search of a better quality of life and, often, a great location in which to bring up a family. Then there are the people who move in later life, for their retirement years. Buyers are also choosing the West Country to acquire a second home for weekend and holiday visits and as a source of income. All of these factors lead me to predict a positive market in 2019.
Looking at the economic factors that affect the property market, one thing to note is that base rates are still exceptionally low and, although there may be a small interest rate rise later in 2019, the base rate is predicted to remain very low in historical terms. There is still pressure to provide new housing and though there is much talk in the press of Government trying to ensure a greater delivery of housing numbers, this always takes some time to work through. Economically, the West Country seems to be in strong position with relatively few jobs being directly affected by Brexit, even if the situation is unresolved for some time. Unemployment is at a low level in the region and continued numbers of people want to move to the area. All in all, the economic outlook continues to be positive for this year.
I am often asked: “When is the best time to put a house on the market?” Certainly, if you are thinking of selling this year, now is a good time to ask for advice from an estate agent on the best presentation of your property and when would be the best time to sell. My advice is that you should not wait to prepare for sale until spring is fully here or, indeed, Brexit is resolved.
If you are considering a sale in 2019 and would benefit from further advice, contact your local Stags office today.