It’s time to get real about prices in North Yorkshire market
WHILE the best houses are still flying off the shelf, the majority of sales are struggling to make headway. Many North Yorkshire houses are over priced by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent and widespread price reductions are, in the end, inevitable.
The demise of HIPS may have helped to bring more properties back on to the market but with new buyer enquiries on the decline, prices have succumbed to the laws of supply and demand and are falling. Most buyers need a competitive situation to reassure them but often we find ourselves using all our expertise to hold together sales that are vulnerable because there is only one buyer fully able to proceed.
It is important to understand, however, that this is a polarised market with the higher end of the residential market being driven by a few cash-rich buyers and the lower end beset by problems of job insecurity and mortgage lending.
The best properties will always transcend market conditions but any property viewed as even remotely run-of-the-mill needs acutely competitive pricing to move it. An owner who cannot sell and does not reduce the price, preferring to “sit it out”, might be in for at least a three year wait. So what has sold in 2010? Copt Hewick Hall, near Ripon sold for a figure close to its £5m guide price, one of three houses or estates over £4m successfully sold by Blenkin & Co in the last three years. Within three weeks of our being instructed, contracts were completed on a fine York town house at its £1.4m guide price, and two other very desirable town houses also sold within a short period to cash buyers, one from London.
A further York city house in a very popular address achieved a sale subject to contract almost immediately upon coming on the market and its sale is proceeding apace.
Our trouble-free house sales have involved downsizers with cash in the bank or clearheaded, unencumbered buyers who have responded to the right property at the right price and have pounced on the new instruction. All found buyers within two weeks, all were in immaculate order, and each of them a not-to-be-missed opportunity. In the last few days an offer has been accepted on a rectory near York, close to its guide price of £1.5m and without the property ever formally coming on to the market.
This sale was largely down to the determination of a buyer who recognised the property’s rarity value and sprang into action. But these sales are the exceptions not the rules.
Many properties around North Yorkshire are advertised at a price that will tempt few buyers. While sellers rarely have an interest in pitching their property at a realistic market value, many estate agents are competing for business by pricing high to entrap sellers, apparently from a desire to fill the window or website.
Buyers from outside the area – on whom we have historically depended to boost prices – have often commented that our local asking prices are unjustifiably high.
One such buyer, who has just sold in the edge-of-theCotswold spa town of Cheltenham, is baffled: “For the asking price of a typical fivebedroom village house marketed by one of the York agents, I can buy a Cotswolds Georgian Rectory – it’s crazy! Why would North Yorkshire command values in excess of an area fed by London bonuses?”
The upshot is that 25 per cent of our stock now comes from disgruntled owners who had their palms crossed with the silver of unrealistic valuations from other agents, and have asked us to sort out the mess and find them a buyer.
On a happier note, the York area is a popular place to live with strong employment, a low crime rate, excellent schooling and superb railway connections to Leeds, London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
York University, Nestlé and Aviva as well as the bio-sciences, IT, the digital and creative media industries and tourism add to the prosperity of the area and offset the loss of future jobs in the biggest employer, York City Council.
If estate agents and homeowners can come to terms with lower property prices, and if cash buyers can learn to take advantage of their strong position and make some cheeky bids to get the ball rolling, the local property market will be free to flourish during these difficult times.
Tim Blenkin is owner of Blenkin & Co estate agency in York. www.blenkinandco. com
SOLD: Copt Hewick Hall fetched close to its £5m guide price.