Region riding high as transport links help bring buyers back
SOMEONE said to me last week: “Who in their right minds buys a house in December? It’s cold, wet, and foggy and that’s during the normal winter let alone the extremes we have experienced during this year”, It’s not an uncommon viewpoint.
So is my friend right? I would say that he certainly is not. In fact, quite the reverse if this year is anything to go by. Some might cynically take the view that this is yet another article by an estate agent with nothing better to do than to inflate the winter market place or his/her ego (or perhaps even both). However, perhaps it is worth having a look at the facts.
Year on year 2011/2012 our viewings are up, So are offers and, not surprisingly, the same can be said of sales. So is there any particular reason for this encouraging upturn?
Well, I have used my regular slot in the Yorkshire Post property section before to extol the virtues of realism and northern common sense and I believe these have helped the market in this area.
Whilst these continue there is hope for the future. In fact, I think there is a quiet confidence returning to the market place. A straw poll I conducted among fellow agents across Yorkshire this week suggests I am not alone in picking up this vibe.
Almost without exception, this confidence boost is mentioned with caution, almost whispered for fear of being taken out of context or misinterpreted. No one dare mention the words “green” and “shoots” for fear of reprisal from frustrated vendors who failed to sell during 2012.
So where does this all lead us to? Maybe an analysis of buyers will help. Through Knight Frank in Harrogate this year, over a third of our buyers (38 per cent to be precise) have moved into the area from outside of Yorkshire, with an encouraging 62 per cent staying put in “God’s own county”.
So why are so many people moving here? Well, to readers of the Yorkshire Post I am preaching to the converted, but then maybe our fellow countrymen in southern England are finally realising that Wakefield, Leeds and York all have a train service that takes them to London Kings Cross in around two hours. Maybe word has spread that the A1 no longer has any roundabouts through Yorkshire.
In fact, there are now none from Tyneside to Bedfordshire and it has been upgraded. Then there is Leeds Bradford Airport and the return of the flagship service with British Airways to London Heathrow plus the arrival of Monarch Airlines to complement the presence of Jet2. com and Ryanair.
Improvements to the region’s infrastructure is undoubtedly a major attraction. However, for those of us already here, there are other factors that appear to be driving the market, in addition to the aforementioned northern common sense.
Finally, we seem to be exorcising the property ghost that, for many, has lingered since the heady days of 2007. There is now widespread acceptance that times and values have moved on, and people are realising that there is no point in reflecting on what your house was worth then.
As is ever the case, a property is only worth what someone will pay for it and it is against this background that sales are being agreed between buyers and sellers who are realistic. I expect this trend will continue into the New Year but not against a background of price increases. That said, I do not see prices falling to any noticeable degree when buyers return to the market. Ultimately, it’s all about sensible pricing and making sure your home is well presented, but now is not the forum for house doctor advice.
So whether my sprouts of recovery (excuse the topical Christmas pun) are air, road or rail driven or simple acceptance of reality I am hopeful that 2013 will see an active residential property market across Yorkshire.