Agents report increased interest in property market

Recent reports of increased interest in the property market and the Halifax index indicating a surprise increase in prices of almost 2%; while estate agents are reporting an increase in interest this is not immediately being converted into sales.

The economic downturn still has a stranglehold on the market and experts forecast no foreseeable change in the trend. Indeed one London agent, Marsh and Parsons, while reporting their offices busier than in over year, admit they expect prices to fall by a further five percent before any signs of improvement are seen. Incidentally they, too add that while interest is rife transactions are almost invisible.

A similar situation is reported by South Wales agent Prestons, where bargain properties are the only ones selling; interesting is the fact that they have seen a glut of customers wishing to sell, but are having to put them off doing so as there are no takers. Pearson Ferrier, operating in Bury, Lancashire, estimates that prices in that area have fallen by as much as ten percent in six months. They also report an upturn in interest, and viewing requests, and a spokesman surmises that the market there may well have bottomed out.

JR Hooper and Co, in the Yorkshire Dales, is one agent reporting actual sales, with comments that the market has gone ‘crazy’ in recent weeks, and agreeing with their Lancashire counterpart that the market has hit the bottom. Remarkably, one office reported five sales in a day, and interest is suddenly very high indeed.

The overall picture, though, is not one of recovery, but one of continued problems. Analysis would appear to indicate that while some parts of the country display very cursory ‘green shoots’ others are struggling to bring life to the market.

A report, in recent weeks, of a £9,000 house in Middlesbrough seems to be indicative of the way the market is going: surrounding properties in this largely depressed area sell for £45,000 and it was reckoned a tidy profit could be made in a very short time, with simply basic upgrading the only necessity.

Properties such as that one are very thin on the ground, however, and will make the news thanks to their rarity rather than as part of a change in the market.

Back to West London and Douglas and Gordon are reporting some interesting changes in the make up of the market, with Director Ed Mead claiming things have reached a ‘tipping point’. He explains that sellers are approaching things in a more realistic manner, but concedes that it is a lack of available financing that is driving the market down at present.

This problem with lenders not providing first time buyers with mortgages does not seem to be helped by the continued reduction in interest rates by the Bank of England; as many are simply not lending except in rare cases. The trend is set to continue for some time and until the banks are willing and able to start lending again the situation does not seem as if it will change for the better.

The situation in Yorkshire where buyers appear to be prevalent may be indicative of a local pocket of interest in that particular area and it will be interesting to note if other rural and semi-rural areas witness similar changes in the market. Meanwhile, the crisis reported within the general media continues with little sign of abating.

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