Tue 07 Feb 2017
By Jonathan Wood, Manager & Valuer, Norwich office
The market was a fluctuating and unpredictable one in 2016. Events such as Brexit, changes to stamp duty for 2nd home owners and the USA election delivered occasional blips in confidence. In contrast, rock bottom interest rates did encourage first time buyers and investors and therefore the lows were quickly overcome by interesting and unforeseen positive news such as the drop in unemployment figures and growth of the economy.
The key driver for the property market continued to be a lack of fluid supply. The very basic marketing forces of supply and demand had never been more obvious. We regularly had more than one buyer bidding for properties, creating some incredible outcomes for our vendors.
2016 was definitely the year of the ‘serious viewer’ with the ratio of offers from viewings rising all the time. There were very few people out there viewing properties simply ‘on a whim’ – and when people found a property they liked they are quick to act upon it. Norfolk experienced a 10% rise, almost twice as much as the rest of the UK.
So what will happen in 2017? The analysts predict that prices will increase but at a much slower rate than in 2016. We think it’s unlikely we will see the 10% rise we experienced last year and experts are suggesting a 2% rise is more likely. However, we have no doubt that demand will remain strong across the county.
The desirability of Norwich remains high with good schooling, expansion of some major businesses and the construction of the northern distributor road. For many, Norfolk and Norwich offers a better quality of life. Whenever you see a county or a city experience infrastructure growth, well-known high street names begin appearing and this is a great sign for long term confidence.
Interestingly, in the city in particular, we have seen a rise in the number of out of area buyers buying a property as a second home with a view to relocate in around 5 years’ time despite the stamp duty increase on second homes.
"Estate agents often get a pretty bad press, yet a good one can really help sell your house as Iâ€™ve recently experienced. We chose Sowerbys because of their professionalism when compared to others we looked at. It was a good choice - with Sowerbys efficiency and good presentation of our property, we sold it quickly, thatâ€™s inevitable when you think thatâ€™s a decent fee for something sold so quickly, but the presentation of our property and the professionalism of the viewings really helped. However our story didnâ€™t end there as our buyer pulled out for personal reasons. This when you need a good agent. Sowerbys reacted quickly and with understanding of our disappointment, and got back on with the job of re-marketing the property without any fuss. This time it took longer, we were in a chain, and quite frankly the English system for selling property is broken, ours took three and a half months to exchange, and until youâ€™ve exchanged, your sale can be gone within a heartbeat, it is not secure. This is where you need a good agent, one that will work with other agents, solicitors, buyers and sellers to keep things moving, keep everyone informed and advise you along the way. I would recommend Sowerbys without hesitation and in particular would give recognition to Peter Scott and Alison Carter at the Hunstanton office. In our experience the solicitors in our chain were not at all responsive and were poor at organising anything but the relationship between themselves and their client, and this is not enough when youâ€™re in a chain, you need someone who will manage, coordinate and cajole across everyone across the chain, Alison Carter at Sowerbys was excellent at taking on this coordination and making things happen. Itâ€™s very difficult to know who your buyer is and how complex a chain is, until your stuck within it, and it only takes one poor solicitor or one difficult buyer and the whole lot can come crashing down without someone there to manage it through â€“ remember that when you choose your estate agent!"