Faster trains may bring more buyers north from London
I firmly believe that the market may be at a tipping point. Sellers have become disillusioned by gloomy reports, by their neighbours failing to sell, or by houses sticking on the market for months or even years. That may be due to over valuing, and some well-known agents are, in a large part, to blame for giving false hope to owners by over valuing.
The upshot is that new vendors are now not coming forward, which means there is a stock shortage. At the same time buyers are focussing once again on York and North Yorkshire.
The city itself and all the favourite locations, particularly the Howardian Hills, are coming under scrutiny once more. They offer wonderful lifestyle opportunities and fantastic value.
At a practical level, the excellent schools will help to draw people in, along with the rail connections at York, Thirsk and Malton and the upgraded A1, which will speed them on their way.
So what else is behind this sudden renaissance?
Both Labour and the Lib Dems are threatening a Mansion tax, which will be 1 per cent or 1.5 per cent payable annually on the value of houses over £2m.
A letter in a newspaper last week stated: “My two-bedroom terrace house with no garden happens to be in Notting Hill and so is worth £2m.
We can see which way the wind is blowing. Consequently and reluctantly we shall be selling our home this spring and looking to relocate”.
With York to London now 1¾ hours by train and likely to get faster, North Yorkshire is an obvious choice for relocators.
That home-owner could keep a flat in London and still have well over a million pounds to spend.
Over the past five years central London property has accelerated by 50 per cent.
In the same period, North Yorkshire has lost 15 per cent. As the Americans would say: “Do the math.” Not all
London buyers head north of course, but Yorkshire has a strong gravitational pull, especially for those born and bred in the county. In fact, we are already, at this early stage in the year, fielding phone calls and arranging appointments for those returning. We make them very welcome!
The pound is at a low ebb and buyers from abroad are finding UK property cheap. We have just agreed terms with a buyer who flew in from Singapore for 48 hours and did a deal.
Since Christmas we have agreed or contracted sales worth almost £8m. Four of these sales are worth over £1m and of these only one is to a buyer currently living in Yorkshire.
Others are from London, Cambridge and overseas. The Old Rectory in Nunnington is a good example. It was marketed in 2012 and, after an abortive sale to a London lawyer, it was snapped up by another London buyer who exchanged contracts in three weeks.
After years as the poor relation, it could just be that North Yorkshire is ready for an upturn. The key now is to persuade owners to bring their houses to the market with a degree of confidence that they will get a result; but emphatically not by artificially ramping up the asking price. All of us have had our lives on hold for too long, and if buyers are eyeing us up again it will not produce results if we suddenly look expensive. As an old tutor used to tell me: “You’ll usually persuade someone to give you £9.50 for a ten pound note, and probably £9.95. But no one will pay you £11”. Houses are like that, too.
Tim Blenkin is a chartered surveyor who owns and runs Blenkin & Co in York.