Fu­ture looks bright – for next 12 months

Macclesfield Express - - HOMES -

JOHN Hal­man is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Gas­coigne Hal­man, an es­tate agent with 18 of­fices in south Manch­ester, and is the north west re­gional res­i­den­tial spokesman for the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors.

Here he dis­cusses the chang­ing for­tunes of the lo­cal prop­erty mar­ket for the year ahead... “AS the new year be­gins there is a real sense of op­ti­mism in the lo­cal area as we re­flect on a re­cently, and sig­nif­i­cantly, im­proved prop­erty mar­ket with over­all price rises of be­tween five per cent and 10pc.

“This com­pares favourably to the north west in gen­eral, where, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­wide and Hal­i­fax statis­tics, prop­er­ties have risen in value by less than five pc.

“This di­ver­gence from the fig­ures for the north west is brought about by our lo­cal mar­ket en­joy­ing higher lev­els of em­ploy­ment and pros­per­ity than many of the in­dus­trial ar­eas which form part of the re­gion.

“In fact, when com­par­ing the south Manch­ester/north Cheshire area, I of­ten find that my company’s av­er­age price ex­ceeds all parts of the coun­try apart from those lo­cated in London and the im­me­di­ately ad­join­ing coun­ties.

“It is par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing that the mar­ket has con­tin­ued to support a high level of sales over the past few months, a time when things tra­di­tion­ally be­come qui­eter.

“Some cor­re­spon­dents are sug­gest­ing that the surge in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity is pe­ter­ing out but hous­ing re­mains a highly sought after com­mod­ity and seems to be re­garded as a safe haven for peo­ple’s sav­ings and pen­sions.

“This con­fi­dence has re­sulted in us see­ing a growth in the num­ber of pri­vate land­lords en­ter­ing into the buy-to­let mar­ket where re­turns can ex­ceed those found in banks and build­ing so­ci­eties and where the in­vest­ment is deemed as ‘safe as houses’.

“Like all in­vest­ments it is not with­out an el­e­ment of risk but any­body who looks back in his­tory will see the long-term av­er­age is in­evitably up­ward.

“Rents too have con­tin­ued to edge up­wards as de­mand out­strips sup­ply.

“Of greater in­ter­est is what the mar­ket will do as we move into 2015.

“The chan­cel­lor’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment in the Au­tumn Bud­get State­ment of a mas­sive over­haul of the stamp duty sys­tem is wel­come, as many in the in­dus­try have been ar­gu­ing for some years that the method of cal­cu­la­tion as a slab tax is un­fair.

“Hence­forth it will be cal­cu­lated on a slid­ing scale with less stamp duty payable on all trans­ac­tions where the house price is less than £937,500.

“Early pre­dic­tions sug­gest that this will have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on the num­ber of trans­ac­tions this year and some pun­dits are ar­gu­ing that it may add be­tween one per cent and two pc to av­er­age prices.

“In ad­di­tion, the in­di­ca­tions are that the bank rate is likely to re­main at its cur­rent level of 0.5 pc for the majority of 2015, with some fore­cast­ers now pre­dict­ing no change be­fore 2016.

“As a re­sult we have seen a pro­gres­sive low­er­ing of the rate of in­ter­est of fixed-term mort­gage deals with some five-year fixed prod­ucts as low as 2.6 pc.

“Of course, this year is an elec­tion year which in­evitably brings with it a de­gree of un­cer­tainty and ner­vous­ness that can be re­flected in the mar­ket.

“The eco­nomic out­look has had a bumpy ride in past months, with forecasts of slow­ing growth in China and a flat econ­omy at best in Europe.

“Although th­ese places are a long way from Cheshire they will un­doubt­edly have an ef­fect on our mar­ket and prices through the com­ing 12 months.

“Over­all, how­ever, we re­main en­cour­aged that the chan­cel­lor’s changes will pro­vide a boost to ac­tiv­ity and that prices will con­tinue to edge up­wards through the year, al­beit at a slower rate than last.

“We there­fore look for­ward with con­tin­ued op­ti­mism to the com­ing 12 months but with a lit­tle more un­cer­tainty for the pe­riod there­after.”

●● John Hal­man, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Gas­coigne Hal­man

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