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How’s the housing market faring?

By Denise Allen - 24 May 2016

Beresfords Director Terry Holmes was recently asked for his comments about the property market for the Times, here’s an insight into what’s happening in Essex.

How many buyers do you have for each property you are currently marketing for sale?

We have an average buyer/property ratio of 14:1 across our Essex-based and Greater London branches; however in Writtle it is 23:1.

Is there a shortage of property for sale in Essex?

The shortage in housing stock is most noticeable in the First Time Buyer sector. However, many second steppers find the next rung hard to get to, not least because many of them in this area will have to foot a significant Stamp Duty bill, on top of all the other costs. As such, many second steppers ‘make do, not move’ and the supply of resale First Time Buyer properties is sadly constrained.

Combine this with the lack of affordable housing being built, and these are the main drivers behind the vicious cycle of price rises. It’s basic supply and demand. There have been Government initiatives that have helped, but nowhere near enough. There are Government plans for a huge investment into starter homes, but there are question marks over how deliverable that will be, especially in the Home Counties where the age/price criteria will be a severe limitation.

What do you think is causing this shortage?

A lack of choice of properties to buy sows the seed of doubt that sellers won’t find the right property to buy, and that deters potential sellers from marketing their properties - plus we just aren’t building enough. In 2011 the Coalition said we needed to be building 232,000 homes a year until 2033 to cope with population growth. The last time we saw those build volumes was in the late 1970s, and since 2008 we’ve been building only around half that number each year.

From a would be buyer's point of view, what practical advice would you give them about how to find a home in a market where stock is short?

Although it may seem counter intuitive, if you put your property on the market first, you will get the best chance of achieving the best price because you won’t be under pressure to sell. Once you have a buyer, you will be in a much better position to purchase, especially properties where the agent has been told only to approach people that have sold -possibly because a property has just come back onto the market after an earlier sale has fallen through.

By achieving a sale before you buy, you’re sending out a very strong message to sellers and estate agents: you are a committed buyer, and if the same house, you will be in the position you can to seal the deal.”

From a vendor's point of view, what are the pros and cons of putting a house up for sale in a market where stock is short?

If you are not in a rush to sell, there could be someone out there who is seeking a property specifically in your area. Buyers will often look at paying a premium to get the property they want, where they want it and the  location they need.

If you’re a vendor and unsure of what to do, you can always test the market. I would recommend vendors speak to an agent like ourselves who can offer a discrete marketing approach. It’s a much more personalised approach whereby we contact prospective buyers individually to gauge interest, and see what demand that creates and at what price.