The housing market remains busy. Compared to the last ‘normal’ market of 2019, buyer enquiries are up 31% and mortgage approvals and sales are up by 12% and 11% respectively. However, there are half as many properties available to buy and stock levels are down 55% (Rightmove, HMRC, Bank of England). The prolonged mismatch between demand and supply continues to support prices. On average, properties are selling subject to contract in just 31 days, the quickest time ever recorded. With competition for properties remaining high, Rightmove report that asking prices have hit their fourth consecutive record high in as many months.
Over 433,000 homes in the UK changed hands in the first four months of 2022, making this the third busiest start to a year since 2007. Last year was an exceptional year due to Covid-19 and 2016 saw a surge prior to the introduction of the 3% additional homes surcharge. Except for last year, April 2022 has been the busiest since 2007 (Dataloft, HMRC). An estimated one in every 20 properties has changed hands across the Southern Home Counties in the past year. Elmridge, Reigate and Banstead are currently the most active housing markets in the region.
A perfect storm
Economic headwinds are gaining momentum. Expectations of global and UK economic growth have been pared back, while consumer confidence has plummeted to its lowest level since records began in 1974. Optimism is weaker than during the global financial crisis, Brexit or Covid-19 (GfK). The Covid recovery, war in Ukraine and rising energy and food prices, alongside a strong labour market and low unemployment, have created a perfect storm. Inflation is pushing a 40-year high. Thanks to fixed-rate mortgages, many households are cushioned from the impact of the latest base rate rise, but day-to-day budgets are increasingly feeling the squeeze.
Double-digit property price growth remains evident in localities across the Southern Home Counties, with annual price growth in the South East currently stronger than it was a year ago (ONS, UK HPI). Across the South East there is less than two months of available stock left to sell, down by almost half on the historical norm.
Slow gear change
For many, the question is when, not if, the property market will start to moderate. However, any gear change is liable to be slow and steady, and not an emergency brake as was the case in the global financial crisis of 2008. Forecasters still anticipate positive price growth over the course of the year. Market fundamentals remain strong. A strong desire to move remains in the minds of many and there is a shortage of properties, compounded by data indicating that new home completions remain below pre-Covid levels and short of the government’s 300,000 homes target.
Properties for sale in the Southern Home Counties
Chichester, West Sussex, 3 bedrooms
With brick and flint elevations this attractive modern home provides bright and spacious accommodation arranged over two floors with a loft room above. This charming house is situated off a sought after cul de sac on Marchwood, a private estate located to the north of the city, boasting a number of communal facilities including a modern heated indoor swimming pool and hard surfaced tennis court with stunning downland views. The location allows easy access to Chichester’s historic city centre and north into the beautiful countryside of the renowned South Downs National Park.
Alfold, Surrey, 3 bedrooms
Number Two, Ridings Barn is a mid terrace home being one of eight properties converted from a substantial farm building. The property is situated on the edge of farmland in a semi rural setting, adjoined by other previously converted farm buildings. The area is traversed by numerous footpaths providing lovely country walks. Alfold is located about four miles from Cranleigh on the Surrey/Sussex border.
Ottershaw, Surrey, 3 bedrooms
A superb character home set in a gated development in the heart of Ottershaw Village. The property was constructed in 2001 by renowned local developer Ashfronts. Their homes have a real touch of quality and elegance. The accommodation consists of sizeable living room with exposed brick fireplace and wood burner along with doors onto a sunny conservatory overlooking the rear garden. Further ground floor accommodation includes a fitted kitchen with a range of eye and base units, W.C and an inviting entrance hall. The first floor has three bedrooms with the master boasting an en-suite shower room and there is a further three piece family bathroom.
As property prices and demand continue to rise, sell your property with experts in the property industry this spring. Contact your local Guild Member today.