feel the pain as volumes plunge
The latest numbers released by the Land Registry make grim reading for local estate agents. They show that property market volumes in the Chiswick area are half what they were a year ago.
What's more after a 15% fall in property prices overall in the previous two quarters the market has made a fairly anaemic recovery rising by only 1% The numbers are for transactions up to June so would include the much hyped post Iraq war "euphoria" which some agents were claiming would bring people back to the market.
The was a nationwide decline in volumes but the overall decrease was still only 16% In terms of prices other parts of the country remain strong over the year with the weakest area being Greater London although the London average at 6% was still ahead of Chiswick's rise.
Derek Fletcher of Fletcher Estates said "It is definitely the case that prices and volumes have been weak. Buyers are now showing a marked preference for properties in good condition. 10 years ago with higher interest rates they would have bought a property to renovate but now they are willing to borrow the extra for a property in good condition. Prices of well maintained properties are down by much less than average."
Agents have expanded rapidly over the last few years driving up rents on Chiswick High Road by opening new premises but this expansion may have been ill-timed for some particularly if the downturn is sustained. Several local offices have had to lay off staff and more job losses in the sector are widely predicted.
Chris Ring of Tate Partnership said, "As a newer player establishing ourselves in the market business is going quite well and we are having our best year ever but it is quite clear that overall the number of properties coming to the market has fallen sharply.
Kirk Kilgallon of Winkworths denied there had been a slump and dismissed concerns about the market as being stirred up by 'clueless property journalists' saying, "It's about time the scare-mongering was put on the back burner and the reality brought out." He expects prices to rise because of low interest rates.
Christopher Bramwell of FPD Savills said, "Offers are coming in well under asking prices and those deals that do occur will be at a discount to asking prices for the foreseeable future. I expect to see no growth in Chiswick residential values over the remainder of 2003." Alex Maile of Bushells reports seeing a very strong rebound in activity for July which is normally a seasonally quiet month.
There is continued evidence of segmentation in the market with flat prices in W4 falling over the last year by around 10% whereas terraced houses in the area rose by the same amount. Some signs of activity continue to emerge at the very top end of the market which saw virtually no transactions in the previous quarter.
There was brighter news on the investment side. Stephen Rodgers of Berkeley Consultants, who are Independent Mortgage Specialists based on Chiswick High Road, have experienced an unprecedented demand for Buy to Let and Investment Property mortgages over the past year. It seems that the expected slow down in Buy to Let property hasn'tít arrived due to many people using rental properties as a way to boost their retirement provision. The lack lustre performance of the equity markets has given rise in demand for Buy to Let as an option for an investorís retirement provision. Due to low interest rates, Berkeley Consultants foresee this demand to carry on into the New Year.
Property Prices in Chiswick Apr - Jun 2003
Source: Land Registry
September 9, 2003
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