Norfolk's resilient market

Norfolk's resilient market hero
Even the most expert forecaster would have been hard-pressed to have predicted the pattern of the property market over the past three years. The regularity of the seasonal market was tossed aside during the pandemic, when the number of home moves hit a record high in 2021, as buyers relocated to coast and country in search of a place with more space to WFH and fully embrace family life.

Initiatives such as the Stamp Duty holiday fuelled the boom further and, even as this came to an end, the UK’s housing shortage meant there continued to be no end of applicants on the hunt for their next home.

Fast-forward to September 2022, when Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s bombshell budget sent a shockwave through the housing market, disrupting many buyers’ plans, and the wheels on the property sector slowed.

While mortgage lending has eased in recent months, affordability – exacerbated by inflation and spiralling energy costs – is still dampening the moving ambitions of some. Yet, far from the negative headlines seen earlier in the year, more recently pundits have said that, while it’s reasonable to expect an adjustment in house prices, there is unlikely to be a housing market crash as some had previously suggested.

In its May analysis, Rightmove reported that viewings increased 3 per cent, sales were up 11 per cent and house prices actually increased 1.8 per cent on average. It appears that those who had paused their moving plans are once again, keen to kickstart their property search in earnest.

“We had a slightly slower start to the year and three or four months of price readjustment,” says Sowerbys’ group sales director Will Lightfoot, “but at the beginning of May viewings and sales sprang back. It’s certainly shifted from a seller’s to a buyer’s market and is more price sensitive, but Norfolk is a consistently stable market and has not been as badly affected as some other regions.”

One thing that experts all agree upon is that pricing right at the outset is key to achieving a positive outcome. Homes that are priced in line with current market trends attract the most interest, and taking advice from a local agent with insight into how similar properties have sold recently will maximise your chances of a successful sale.

By avoiding the temptation to test the market, a vendor is more likely to convert initial interest from buyers that are keen to find a property in your area. “During the pandemic, we typically saw three or four buyers per house, but we are now in a more normal market where there is more choice and buyers don’t want to overpay,” adds Will.

“Generally it depends on the supply and demand of an area. We are still seeing micro-climates in certain hotspots, such as Blakeney and Snettisham where there is lots of interest and best and final offers, but in suburbs and larger areas where buyers are able to look at several properties, a vendor can typically expect one or two offers. It’s important to listen to your agent and to consider accepting a reasonable offer if it enables you to move forwards with your own plans.

“First impressions count and, particularly at this time of year, ensuring your garden looks as good as possible will strengthen the appeal to potential buyers. The old days of pricing to see market response are behind us and, with the date of listing visible for all to see, a property looks old very quickly online. Work closely with your agent, be realistic and get it right from the outset.”