At Lawson we are lucky enough to be regularly approached by local and national media for our advice and expertise on the Property Industry. As well as providing Market comment and advice for Property professionals in respected national publication The Negotiator at the start of January, this week our Marketing Director Chris Mervyn was interviewed by Heart Radio about the housing market in Plymouth and his personal thoughts on the possible effects of Brexit. Here are his answers…
The Halifax says house prices rose by 2-point-2 per cent in December, what is it like in Plymouth/surrounding area?
“Certainly, house prices for those properties new to the market rose pre-Christmas, as a combination of lack of competition and slightly over eager pricing from some estate agents. What we saw in Plymouth and elsewhere in the Southwest is that Sold prices dropped due to sellers wanting to agree a sale before the New Year – but both the ‘For SALE Price increase and the SOLD price decrease’ is similar every year in December – and correct pricing is key to gaining an early sale for any new property to the market.”
What is the situation out there – more buyers or sellers?
“I’d say in Plymouth that over the last few months we have suffered from too many properties on the market at ‘unrealistic’ prices (marketed at prices higher than they should) and this is backed up by trends analysis from Rightmove.co.uk, with other Cities in Devon and Cornwall seeing prices falling to mirror concerns over Brexit and Uncertainty in the economy. Buyers are a little savvier on pricing and perhaps unwilling to spend over the odds to secure a property in general – but there are more buyers typically searching again now we are in January.”
Are people looking to move before Brexit or are they waiting?
“I think that every person on the street is a little confused / worried about Brexit and Sellers and Buyers are no different. As an estate agent it is hard to give advice on things like, when is the right time to sell or indeed buy – particularly when nothing is concrete. There is a general feeling of uncertainty which does nothing to help home movers, but I think that Brexit has taken so long to sort out, many have decided to just plough forward and move nonetheless. Brexit is certainly a reason to think a few times before deciding to move – but shouldn’t in general be used as an excuse not to….. at least not yet anyway!”
What impact do you think Brexit will have on the housing market?
“When we do eventually Brexit there will undoubtedly be a period of questioning. How has it affected me or you personally? Is my employment secure? Is now the right time to move? I think it’s very hard to give a viewpoint on Brexit until we have an actual handle on what it entails and when it is to happen. In Plymouth we have large main employers like Derriford hospital, DML and the University and it’s difficult to suggest how leaving will affect their income / productivity and indeed the status of any overseas staff that they employ – And I’m certainly not knowledgeable enough to give an educated guess. What I do know though is that, in Plymouth in particular, there are large sections of Eastern European citizens and other overseas workers who have made Plymouth their home and contribute to the local economy. This includes a fair number of property transactions and if this was to change I think we could see a negative effect.
One thing that is for sure is that whether Brexit is a good or bad thing for you personally, people will still need to sell – whether it is because you are worse off or better off – there will always be people wanting to buy for the same reasons.”
Do we need more social housing?
“Undoubtedly the City does need more social housing, as we do nationally but personally I’d like to see more shared ownership or perhaps schemes like Rentplus which would enable local people to get onto the housing ladder and have the ability to fully purchase their home, as lower wages locally can be a hindrance in being able to save for a deposit to purchase a home. “
Are the new builds – places like Sherford – having ANY effect on the housing market in 2019?
“What we saw towards the end of 2018 was a bit of a slowdown in new build purchases in Plymouth and surrounding areas – Although the more bespoke, smaller developments seem to be selling well. Larger sites have been hit a little by the amount of part exchange and ‘help to move’ or similar packages that were offered in early Autumn. There have been a lot of people upscaling early to a larger property who were perhaps pushing themselves financially a little earlier than they had planned because of some great properties available, but I still feel that larger developments like Sherford will be a very good purchase longer term. The incentives that new build schemes can offer are very hard to compete against for the average house seller so yes they will undoubtedly take away buyers in 2019 who may well have purchased a ‘second hand’ property – but that is the same for any development at any time and in any place. How Brexit will effect new build schemes remains to be seen.”
What are / if you have any – your predictions for 2019?
“Hard to predict with so many questions unanswered regarding Brexit and both the USA and China going into a bit of a slowdown globally – so there will be a continued feeling of uncertainty. House Prices will remain static with the possibility of the local market having to re-adjust in certain areas of the City to remain competitive. There will be success for those pragmatic property owners looking to sell at the right market price and success for those selling with Estate Agents that have expertise of selling through uncertain times and those home sellers and buyers who listen to professional advice – and take a longer term approach to home and property ownership.”