Category Archives: Survey

Property prices are on the rise – Is your home?

Peter Higham, director of Gascoigne Halman, said houses worth £200,000 are selling at very fast rate with the market for homes worth £1m or more has seen a real improvement.

He said: “Because it was a particularly hard last two or three years we’ve seen change because the market below has been a lot better and we have had very good sales which has moved people onward and upward.

“A person selling a £600,000 – £700,000 property asking ‘should I move upward?’ has now got more confidence in the market.”

Peter said houses worth £1m plus usually stay on the market for no more than six months.

He said: “It’s all about presentation. Ask the right price and it will sell.

“In the past many people have pushed some of the prices but this year I believe people have been more sensible in their approach to selling so homes have been selling quicker.”

Peter said the market at the lower end of the price range is even stronger especially for properties priced between £200,000 to £800,000.

He said: “There’s a lack of supply at the moment. When people are looking to buy there is a lot of competition from other buyers because of this lack of supply.

“The more people sell the better the market will become.”

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Housing supply dries up

My newspaper this morning predicted that house prices could rise by as much as 25% over the next five years following a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) report. The report shows that the number of homes for sale has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1978.

It is suggested that this shortage of supply comes as a consequence of people living longer and moving house less frequently.   Low cost mortgages are also a factor where people have taken advantage of the cheapest ever interest rates and locked into a long term deal rather than moving home.

This reduction in available properties is puzzling as the General Election result was expected to provide a much needed boost in confidence and a consequential increase in the activity levels.  Instead, whilst sales and rentals have been active, properties which have been sold or let have not been replaced by new properties coming to the market and, as a consequence, we have seen prices rising in all of the most popular residential districts locally.

RICS has also predicted that people’s lifestyles may be changing. One particular new trend is that parents, conscious of the difficulties facing young people getting onto the property ladder, rather than move, have chosen to release some equity from their property to help their offspring. Alternatively they are purchasing a Buy to Let property.

For our part, the declining number of available properties is also a direct result of a shortage of housing in our country and the problems related to the lack of new building over the last twenty years. These factors are now coming home to roost.  Not only is there pressure on house prices but there is also pressure on rent levels with properties being let often within a matter of hours of becoming available and at ever increasing rent levels.

All of our towns and villages face pressures of development with nobody enjoying the prospect of green belt encroachment.  Unfortunately however, without some selective relaxation, the onward increase in house prices and rent levels is inevitable.

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Some top tips for selling your home

Some top tips for selling your home

When it comes to property sales in Cheshire, South Manchester or the High Peak we have many years’ experience assisting homeowners to achieve a speedy property sale.

If you are selling your home you want to present it at its best and ensure that prospective buyers are charmed by your property.

We have developed some golden rules that are certainly worth remembering when it comes to selling and presenting your home for a speedy property sale.

Here’s our top 5:

1. Depersonalise: As much as you love your children’s drawings on the fridge and the pencil artwork on the wallpaper, chances are your prospective buyers may not. In order to allow buyers to picture themselves living in your house, try to create a blank canvas wherever possible.

2. Declutter: When it comes to selling your home, the more clear surfaces you have, the better. It will make your home look larger and cleaner.

3. Disassociate yourself: Prepare your home for a viewing, step outside and re-enter the house with the mind-set of a potential buyer. Look for any possible flaws or limitations and do your best to address them.

4. Define every space: You may use a bedroom as a gym or storage area but portraying a room like this will bamboozle your prospective buyers. Each room should have a clear and distinct purpose.

5. Lighting: Dark corridors and pokey bedrooms can be brought to life in a second with a flick of a switch. Never underestimate the power of lighting and ensure that all the required lights are turned on before anyone comes to view.

Watch out for a future article with more top home selling tips!

Estate Agent to share £25,000 with local community

JFH&PH_team_med

Photo caption: John Halman, managing director (left of banner) and Peter Higham, operations director (right of banner) with staff members

Independent estate agent, Gascoigne Halman, has set up a £25,000 fund which is to be shared out amongst organisations, charities and groups doing good work in the local community.

The fund has been set up to celebratethe company’s 25th Anniversary this year.

The estate agent is calling the scheme the ‘£25k Community Challenge’. Launched this month, Gascoigne Halman is inviting local charities, organisations and community help groups to apply for a slice of the fund.

Speaking about the Challenge, managing director of Gascoigne Halman, John Halman said, “We were keen to mark our 25th anniversary in a meaningful way. Over the past eight years we have raised over sixty six thousand pounds for a number of charities and it has become part of what we do as a business. Each year we focused on a different charity.

“However, to celebrate working in the area with so many local people for 25 years we decided to take a different approach. We wanted to help and support a large number of organisations and in particular we wanted to help the smaller groups working at grass roots level. And so the idea of the Gascoigne Halman £25k Community Challenge was born.

“We envisage making probably around 10 donations but that is in no way fixed, it’s up to organisations, charities and local groups to tell us what they need in terms of funding, why they want it and who will benefit. It’s possible that we end up giving 25 smaller donations – it’s up to the public now.”

More information and an application form can be found at any Gascoigne Halman office or at their website. Applications can be made online from February 16th up to Friday 17th July 2015.

The company will announce a shortlist in September and those applicants invited to make a short presentation to the judging panel in November prior to the successful applicants being announced later that month.

In closing, John said, “We are really excited about hearing from many local groups.

“We are putting together a judging panel of prominent local people who will work with us to make decisions about who is shortlisted and where the money eventually goes. I would urge local groups, no matter how large or small, to get in touch.”

Market Review December 2014

Market receives boost from Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

As we move towards the end of the year we can reflect on a significantly improved property market in our local area with overall price rises of between 5% and 10%.  This compares favourably to the North West generally where, according to the Nationwide and Halifax statistics, properties have risen in value by less than 5%.

This divergence from the figures for the North West is brought about by our local market enjoying higher levels of employment and prosperity than many of the industrial areas which form part of the region.  In fact, when comparing the South Manchester/North Cheshire area generally, I often find that my company’s average price exceeds all parts of the country apart from those located in London and the immediately adjoining counties.

It is particularly pleasing that the market has continued to support a high level of sales right into November, a time when things traditionally become quieter.  Some correspondents are suggesting that the surge in economic activity is petering out but housing remains a highly sought after commodity and seems to be regarded as a safe haven for people’s savings and pensions.

This confidence has resulted in us seeing a growth in the number of private landlords entering into the Buy to Let market where returns can exceed those found in banks and building societies and where the investment is deemed as safe as houses!  Like all investments it is not without an element of risk but anybody who looks back in history will see the long term average is inevitably upward.  Rents too have continued to edge upwards as demand outstrips supply.

Of greater interest is what the market will do as we move into 2015.  The Chancellor’s surprise announcement in the Autumn Budget Statement of a massive overhaul of the Stamp Duty system is welcome, as many in the industry have been arguing for some years that the method of calculation as a slab tax is unfair.  Henceforth it will be calculated on a sliding scale with less Stamp Duty payable on all transactions where the house price is less than £937,500.   Early predictions suggest that this will have a beneficial effect on the number of transactions next year and some pundits are arguing that it may add between 1% and 2% to average prices.

In addition, the indications are that bank rate is likely to remain at its current level of 0.5% for the majority of 2015 with some forecasters now predicting no change before 2016.  As a result we have seen a progressive lowering of the rate of interest of fixed term mortgage deals with some five year fixed products as low as 2.6%.

Of course, next year is an election year which inevitably brings with it a degree of uncertainty and nervousness which can be reflected in the market.  The economic outlook has had a bumpy ride through the autumn with forecasts of slowing growth in China and a flat economy at best in Europe.  Although these places are a long way from Cheshire they will undoubtedly have an effect on our market and prices through the coming twelve months.

Overall, however, we remain encouraged that the Chancellor’s changes will provide a boost to activity and that prices will continue to edge upwards through next year, albeit at a slower rate than this year.

We therefore look forward with continued optimism to the coming twelve months but with a little more uncertainty for the period thereafter.

John Halman

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Gascoigne Halman shortlisted for 2 national estate agent awards

Gascoigne Halman is delighted to have been shortlisted for two national estate agent awards.

The leading independent estate agent has been shortlisted in the Relocation Agent Network (RAN) 2014 Best Agent in Cheshire & North Wales and Lee Tickle from the company’s Stockton Heath office has been shortlisted in Relocation Agent Network’s 2014 Employee of the Year Award.

RAN is an affiliation of the country’s leading independent estate agents who together make up the most influential estate agency force in Britain. RAN is backed by Cartus, the world’s largest relocation company.

By being part of the RAN alliance, Gascoigne Halman has the first opportunity to access the large number of purchasers moving into the area from other parts of the country through over 620 offices nationwide.

The Best Agent award is an annual prize for the agent that has consistently made the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year. To reach this stage of the award agents must demonstrate excellent customer service, independent business initiatives, local market share and a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles.

Lee Tickle’s award acknowledges individuals who go above and beyond to provide the highest levels of customer service in their estate agency.

John Halman, Gascoigne Halman’s Managing Director said, “We are delighted to be shortlisted, especially as the awards recognise the hard work and combined effort, commitment and enthusiasm of our entire team.”

The winners will be announced on the 14th November at the RAN Awards Dinner in London.

Blooming Housing Market

John Halman of Gascoigne Halman

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with seventeen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The much heralded green shoots of the property market which have been referred to over the course of the last couple of years are now well established and moving close to full bloom!

As the year has progressed we have seen a steady increase in sales and also an increasing number of press articles relating to the recovery of the property market with many anticipating an undesirable housing market boom.  For the most part these articles become self fulfilling as they provide the confidence that the market lives off to encourage purchasers to buy, and sellers to sell.

Much of the speculation surrounds the affect of Help to Buy 2, the Government’s housing initiative where they will offer guarantees on the first 20% of the loan, thereby allowing cheaper mortgages for purchasers requiring up to a 95% mortgage.   Whilst it is still early days, the products that have been released so far tend to be at interest rates of around 5% and some carry an arrangement fee as well.   This compares to current loans which are normally available for purchasers looking to borrow not more than 60% at a range of rates between 2% and 2.5%, fixed for three years.

Whilst Help to Buy will undoubtedly be a catalyst for purchase for some buyers, it is unlikely to transform the nature of the property market and will have a less beneficial effect than the press speculation that surrounds it.

There is no doubt, however, that the property market needs first time buyers and any assistance that can be given for this type of purchaser, many of whom will already be living in rented accommodation, can only be regarded as helpful and therefore a stimulant to the market overall.

There are currently many people paying rent in excess of that which they would pay in mortgage payments, if only they could find a deposit and have the confidence to buy.  Each of these aspects has been aided by Help to Buy 2.

This increase in confidence has brought with it an increase in activity in our own property market and has also resulted in pressure on prices in the more desirable locations for the first time in five years.  Our number of housing transactions has increased over the last six months on a month by month basis and it would seem that there is a considerable amount of pent up demand from families who have been sitting tight for the last few years and are now looking to move over the coming year.

For this reason if no other, we are optimistic that those blooms I referred to may well be in full flower by next spring, but beware of the coming frosts.

What’s happening to the value of your home?

John Halman of Gascoigne Halman

At long last there is some improvement in the level of confidence and activity in the housing market. Gascoigne Halman is represented by seventeen offices across the region and, as such, our activity levels provide a useful barometer for what’s happening with the property market in your local patch.

I am sure you will be pleased to read that last month we saw not only increased enquiries but also the highest number of agreed sales since 2008.

Rightmove, the country’s most popular property portal has recently announced that average asking prices in England and Wales have passed £250,000 for the first time.  They have also stated that this is a 2.7% increase on a year ago and a 1.2% increase from the month before.  This was the sixth consecutive monthly rise.

Rightmove statistics also indicate that whilst prices in the South East were racing away climbing 14.8%, those in the North, which not only reflect our area but the wider region, rose by 9.2%. Rightmove said that this represented the possibility of a broader housing market recovery and this has certainly been reflected by the activity levels and number of sales generated across our offices in South Manchester, North Cheshire and the High Peak.

The good news for home buyers is that prices have adjusted significantly and, according to the Nationwide Building Society, have fallen 20% in real terms since the autumn of 2007. According to Oxford Economics and the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ Green Budget, prices are now below their long term trend.  They also point out that this is further backed up by the House Price Earnings Ratio which has fallen a quarter since the crisis and is now in line with its average since the period of low interest began in the 1990’s.

One of the recent factors that has had a positive impact on the market has been the increased competition among many lenders enabling more competitive mortgage deals for first time buyers and those requiring a high loan to value. These groups have been penalised over the last few years and this in itself has been a factor in slowing down the property market.

So we are seeing welcome and noticeable improvements in the property market but there are words of caution.  The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association says that post-recession home ownership levels have fallen dramatically and transactions are still operating at only 60% of those at the peak.  As a consequence it is likely that the private rented sector will continue to satisfy a significant part of our housing needs over the coming years.

The future sees the introduction of the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme for second hand homes next January and this is a 95% tax payer backed mortgage scheme.  Whilst this has attracted some criticism as it could provide an artificial stimulus to the market and cause prices to rise, it appears that some buyers are pre-empting any potential scheme-induced price rises by doing a deal now.

After several years of having to deal with a significant slump in confidence in the housing market, and with a lack of available funding, this commentator is certainly relieved that on this occasion there appears to be sound reasons for optimism for the market in our area.

John Halman

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with seventeen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Gascoigne Halman welcomes Government’s Help to Buy Scheme

John Halman

Local independent estate agent, Gascoigne Halman, has welcomed the Chancellor, George Osborne’s, new homebuying scheme called ‘Help to Buy’, announced in last months’ budget. The Chancellor said that the plan was “a new offer to the aspiration nation” as it will help families and individuals struggling to find a deposit for a home.

The scheme has two parts. The first, available from April 1st, offers buyers the opportunity to take an interest free loan from the government. It is available to any buyer of new property with a maximum purchase price of £600,000. This is an expansion of the FirstBuy shared equity scheme. The borrower will need a 5% deposit with the government lending up to 20%, interest free. The remaining 75% will come from mortgage lenders. The government is making £130bn available for this part of the scheme.

Commenting, John Halman said, “The great thing about this part of the new scheme is that it’s immediately available plus it’s not restricted to first-time buyers. Families, for example, who find themselves shackled by a home which is too small for their needs but who have been struggling to find an affordable new mortgage can finally get moving, as long as they aspire to a new home. What’s more, anyone can benefit – there is no salary cap.”

The second part of ‘Help to Buy’, which sees the government acting as guarantor for some of the borrower’s debt, is available from January 2014 and is open to all buyers of new build and existing homes. It replaces and extends the NewBuy scheme where currently the mortgage guarantee is co-funded jointly by the government and developers. Under ‘Help to Buy’, the mortgage indemnity will be provided solely by the government.

Borrowers will need a 5% to 20% deposit, meaning they will be able to borrow up to a 95% loan to value mortgage. The government guarantee will cover the remaining amount above 80% loan to value. The maximum purchase price will again be £600,000.

Commenting on this part of the scheme, John said, “The final details of this second part of the scheme have yet to be finalised but from the information we have you can see that the mortgage underwriting scheme will provide much needed help for the second hand market.

“I would predict that by this time next year we will be seeing real improvements in the market. Government schemes have focused on first time buyers and new build properties but with this we will have an initiative that also offers help to those looking to purchase an existing house.”

Both parts of the scheme will run from three years.

Humphrey visits Hayfield Primary

(L-R) Lorraine Batty, Harry Batty-Stokes, Humphrey, Thomas Reimann-Jones & Jenny Clarke

Students from Hayfield Primary and staff from Gascoigne Halman’s seventeen offices, accompanied by Humphrey, donned their walking boots, along with their families and canine friends, to complete the challenging 8 mile Kinder Scout Walk in October. Student Harry Batty-Stokes and his friend Thomas Reimann-Jones were surprised with a visit from Humphrey, in recognition of the two boys raising the most money for the walk.

Harry, Humphrey and Thomas give the thumbs up to fundraising

The enthusiastic walkers met Humphrey at the Sportsman’s Inn at Hayfield on a wet Sunday but the rain didn’t put them off and they put their best feet forwards to head up Kinder Scout, taking in the stunning scenery as they went. This was the generous estate agent’s fifth fundraiser in their 2012 quest to raise money for this very worthwhile charity.

Commenting on the event, Hayfield Primary’s Headmistress Claire Fisher said, “The children were extremely excited to take part in the Kinder Scout Walk and raise money to help poorly children. Despite the poor weather, they had a super day and Humphrey really enjoyed the outing. We were so glad he was able to join us, he’s really fit!”

For more information on buying or selling your home, please call Lorraine Batty at Gascoigne Halman in Whaley Bridge on  01663 719500 or visit www.gascoignehalman.co.uk

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