Cheffins Cambridge looks back on the past year
Head of residential sales at the estate agency, Mark Peck, reflects on 2017 and looks ahead to 2018.
As a year, feeling the aftershocks of Brexit, Trump, changes to stamp duty, a snap election and various housing policy amendments, the property market has stood remarkably firm.
Residential sales figures at Cheffins have been up on 2016 in some areas, with the Cambridge office in particular reporting 20 per cent more sales in the past 12 months.
Prices have been very much localised throughout the year, with different offices seeing different levels of growth, however we can happily report increases of around five per cent across the board.
While this is indicative that the market is not seeing the enormous advancements enjoyed through the past five years or so, this does go to show that in a tricky market, houses are still selling.
Interest rate rises, uncertainty in the market and no change to stamp duty levels at the top end has definitely capped prices to a certain extent, however it is not all doom and gloom as some may report.
Demand for housing at all price points has continued to flourish, especially as investment progresses into Cambridge and the surrounding area.
Further funding into the science and technology sectors, as promised in the most recent Industrial Strategy, will bring with it employment in Cambridge, which will ensure demand levels remain healthy.
The growth of the local economy will continue to progress and this ought to help balance the salary to affordability ratio and help kick-start sales in the more expensive levels of the market. We are fortunate that the Cambridge Phenomenon has helped create our own economy across the sub-region, with necklace cities and towns including Ely, Saffron Walden, Newmarket and Haverhill all benefiting from its economic growth.
City and town centre markets have remained remarkably fluid, while village and rural homes over the £925,000 mark may have seen slower transactions levels as stamp duty continues to affect the top end of the market.
Price sensitivity remains an issue, so the houses which have sold best have been those which have been priced realistically.
Looking ahead to 2018, the abolition of stamp duty up to £300,000 for first-time buyers ought to have a positive knock-on effect on property sales across all price brackets. If we can kick-start mobility, this ought to free up additional homes to the market, helping second-steppers and upsizers.
This, alongside the high levels of housebuilding forecast for the region, ought to result in a healthy market throughout the year. Interest rate movement is yet unknown, however hopefully this will stabilise while homeowners adjust to the new base rate.
Many will be reporting increased uncertainty in the market as Brexit negotiations get under way. However, we do not forecast this to have much of a noticeable effect on the market. While Brexit will dominate headlines, people still need to upsize, downsize, move for schooling and so on.
Life goes on and we don’t believe that Brexit perceptions will really affect decisions on whether to move. We forecast the middle market will stay active, with the typical three-bedroom semi-detached homes and realistically-priced properties continuing to fly off the shelves.
The upper end might be slightly slower. However, there is definitely still demand out there for some of our region’s best country homes.