New recommendations from RICS to improve property market research

property-market-research

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has developed new “Property in Politics” recommendations as a guide for new government ministers.

With the political landscape in the process of changing, it is hoped that the plans will ensure that the property market develops in a way which benefits the economy without being politicised.  They centre around the suggested establishment of a ‘Housing Observatory’ whose role would be to compile independent research allowing better long term monitoring and analysis of the property market.

The Observatory would assess the impact of current market structures locally, nationally and internationally, identify areas for improvement, and suggest and support new avenues for research.  One area which has been highlighted for review is Council Tax, which should, according to RICS, undergo a full assessment.

It seems certain that the property market will see sustained change over the coming years, which RICS hopes will be made with less connection to politics and more connection to property experts.

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Are London’s price rises slowing down?

London’s property market continues to be robust for buyers and sellers alike, however two factors have seen favour sway from sellers to buyers in recent months.

The traditional summer lull when many potential buyers are holidaymaking rather than making offers, plus the recent tightening of mortgage lending rules following the government’s Mortgage Market Review, have helped pushed down prices in London by 5.3% during August according to Rightmove.

“After a period of dramatic property price increase over the last eight months, including prices climbing my by as much as 20% earlier in the year in Battersea, the summer has brought a much calmer buying climate,” says Tim Hays, sales manager of the Battersea office at London Estate Agents James Pendleton.

“Back in early summer property was coming to the market and being sold within a week, often via a sealed bid auction with multiple buyers bidding against each other.

“The pace has now slowed as values have reached an all-time high and buyers are being more cautious with the offers they make.”

It is most definitely still a good time to sell; despite house prices falling for three months in a row on average, London’s homes are still worth 10.3% more than they were a year ago .In some parts of the capital this figure is even higher – for example in Wandsworth prices have increased by 12%.

London has therefore rapidly become a buyer’s market as the last weeks of the summer have approached, something that happens to a greater or lesser degree every year but has been amplified this year by such an active property market earlier in the year as vendor expectations have been raised.

“It’s not all bad news for vendors,” says Tim. “If you are thinking about putting your home on the market, offer it at a realistic level and you’ll still sell at a very good price. South West London is a very strong investment area and one of the most popular places to live in the Capital.”

Three trends for this year’s autumn property market

buy and sellThe London property market experiences several high points each year driven by different seasonal trends.

For example, the market heats up during the run up to Christmas as people try to complete before the market closes down for the festivities. Then, during the first week of January a surge in the number of buyers pushes up demand and therefore prices.

During July and August, when most families go on holiday, activity increases once as owners try to sell before they go on holiday and again in September as buyers come back from their trips away ready to move home.

Rising demand during the autumn peak period pushes up prices. For example the team at Wandsworth Estate agents James Pendleton last year observed that prices began creeping up in October and November before peaking at a monthly average increase of 2.1% in December – before simmering down to a relatively tame increase of 1% in January.

In London properties sell 5% faster in October than in September so the later in Autumn a property goes on the market, the quicker the sale is likely to be. Properties sell even more quickly after the New Year –homes sold 40% faster during the first three months of the year in London compared to the three months before.

To find out about the current market conditions or if you have a question about buying selling or renting property speak to the team at London estate agents James Pendleton.

London lets: Are new-builds better than ‘period’ properties?

London is currently awash with new-build developments rising, shiny and new into the capital’s skyline in almost every district. Many of the individual properties within these developments are being snapped up by landlords and in some cases as many as 70% can be destined for the lettings market.

And yet for many landlords new build properties are seen as less attractive than solid period properties that come with a rental track record and are within proven property markets.

So if you can’t decide between these radically different buy to let offerings, here’s a guide to each type’s pros and cons, courtesy of London estate agent James Pendleton.

New-build properties

For

  • Fixtures, fittings, equipment and appliances are totally up to date and meet the latest requirements.
  • Leasehold lengths tend to be longer than older properties.
  • The buying process is easier because there’s no onward chain.
  • Developers often offer ‘buy to let’ packages including multiple property purchase discounts, furniture packages and property warranties.
  • New homes are more energy efficient than older ones and therefore cheaper to heat.

Against

  • Annual service charges within new-build apartment blocks can be pricey.
  • New-build blocks tend to flood the local rental market with properties, potentially weakening local average rental yields.
  • New-build properties can require a lot of post-purchase remedial work, which may annoy tenants.
  • New-build properties are often more expensive to buy than older ones.

Period properties

For

  • Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian homes are more sought-after than newer ones.
  • Period features such as tiled fireplaces, cornicing and bay windows have timeless appeal.
  • Room sizes and ceiling heights are usually more generous than new-build ones.
  • Walls and ceiling thicknesses are larger, making neighbour noise less of a problem than new-build homes.

Against

  • For apartments, leaseholds are more likely to be shorter unless the lease has been extended recently.
  • Maintenance and renovation bills will be higher and more frequent than new-builds.
  • Heating bills may be more expensive than for new builds.
  • Planning permission for extensions can be difficult to win if the property is listed.

To enquire about making a buy to let investment or for questions about rental property contact London estate agents James Pendleton here.

Wandsworth area property guide

Wandsworth Town has transformed into a fashionable place to live as high prices in other areas of the borough, coupled with a billion pound investment scheme, make it one of London’s new hotspots.

Home buyers and in particular dual-income 30-somethings with and without children love the area’s diverse range of properties including cute period cottages, large early Victorian villas, mid-range period semis as well as modern riverside apartments.

“Wandsworth town centre is relatively small and consequently a few ‘villages’ within it have become the most popular places to live,” says David Barker, Wandsworth Town & Tonsleys office manager at local estate agent James Pendleton.

These include the Tonsleys, a grid of streets, many with Tonsley in their titles and containing some 600 Victorian and mostly terraced houses. Demand for these houses has pushed up the average for the area to just over £1m although some of the larger high spec properties have been on the market for up to and over £1.2 million. To give a measure of their popularity, ten years ago these wisteria covered properties were selling for approximately £400,000. This area, which is bordered on two sides by the A3 and by the A214 and A217 on the other two, is also famous for fashionable gastro pubs and cafes.

Another area that has witnessed feverish development and house prices rises recently is Spencer Park to the South West. Locals like to call it ‘millionaire’s row’ and its large mansions, one of which is home to chef Gordon Ramsay, command prices of several million pounds.

Some of Wandsworth’s most sought after addresses are those on the ‘toast rack’ roads on the edge of Wandsworth Common, so named as they are arranged in a way that resembles a stretched Dualit. Prices for detached and semi-detached houses there have been approaching (and in one case achieving) £4 million-good news for one of its famous residents, Location, Location, Location presenter Phil Spencer.

The town’s centre is tipped for great things at the moment, helped by the imminent redevelopment of the famous Ram Brewery site, formerly where Young’s beer was brewed and part of a £1 billion makeover for the town’s central streets. Nearby, more new-build developments are popping up. Stroll along the area’s former industrial wharf river frontage and you’ll see a waterfront shimmering on both sides of Wandsworth Bridge with an array of upmarket glass-and-steel apartment developments.

London estate agency makes an unusual promise

estate agents in south west london

There are nearly 5,000 estate agents in London and it can be tricky to choose between them. Using a marketing campaign backed up by company-wide action, one agent in South West London is making a determined promise to truly ‘go that little bit further’ for their clients.

James Pendleton, one of London’s fastest-growing estate agents with nine branches in the Capital, has launched an unusual advertising campaign to highlight its commitment to customer service for those selling their homes.

The campaign launched in March and includes a recent light-hearted Easter banner. It focuses in a light hearted way on how the South West London estate agents is well known in the Capital for ‘going that little bit further’ and plays on how this frees up time for sellers to focus on other parts of their lives. Posters featuring the new campaign can be seen at sites in Fulham, Balham, Wandsworth and Battersea and have been created following research by the James Pendleton into what its customers really want from an estate agent.

“We found that people selling their homes are more interested in the standard of service offered by their estate agent than any other factors” says Managing Director Lucy Pendleton.

The new adverts reflect the company’s internal culture of going that little bit further to ensure excellent service; helping people move into their new home when a removals company let them down; spending several hours late on a Saturday dismantling furniture in a soon-to-be sold property and helping a vendor who had locked themselves out of their home on a Sunday.

“Ever since the business began we’ve put extraordinary customer service at the heart of it and we wanted our next advertising campaign to reflect this while at the same time retaining our signature tongue-in-cheek tone,” says Lucy.

 

The six qualities of a good lettings agent

Late Spring and early Summer are the two key periods in London’s lettings market because it is during these balmier months that many more tenants decide to move home and the number of homes available to rent increases.
But if you are a landlord, how do you know which estate agent to use as the crescendo of market activity looms? Here are the six qualities that will help you spot the ideal lettings agent within London’s crowded rental market.
1. Marketing: Do they have both local knowledge but also a large enough branch network to market your property through effectively?  Do they have strong online presence and a strong, branded website (it’s not all about the portals-ask the agent how many visits their site receives).  Picture quality is also vital to ‘stand out from the crowd’.

2. Customer service: Every time your letting agent shows someone around your property they should offer prompt and insightful feedback about the viewing.

3. Paperwork: A good agency is there to consistently ensure that you as a landlord fulfil all of your legal requirements, such as EPCs, Gas Safety Certificates and deposit protection.

4. Contracts: A legally watertight tenancy agreement is vital and a good letting agent will work with a landlord to tailor it to the property and tenants. Bad ones simply print off ‘standard contracts’ and don’t bother to chase up tenant references properly or in time.

5. Diligence: Pick an agent who ‘goes that little bit further’. For example, good lettings agents should be able to help landlords plan their tax and know the different ins and outs of tax rules. Does the agent have a dedicated ‘Move in’ team?  Is your agent thinking about every step of the process from offer acceptance to actual move-in?  The latter is a vital area often overlooked by agents and failing in this area could result in the let falling through.

6. Value for money: Does your lettings agent offer a ‘full service’ for their fee? It should include making arrangements for the property’s Energy Performance Certificate and Gas Safety Certificate as well as the placing of the tenant’s deposit within a government-approved scheme.
“Letting a property through an agent is understandably a popular choice with landlords given the number of boxes that need ticking before a property can be let,” says Tanya Yates, Associate Director at South London lettings agent James Pendleton.

lettings director

James Pendleton Lettings Associate Director Tanya Yates

“We believe clarity is one of the most important qualities to look for in a lettings agency and above all, as a trusted point of contact, an agency should always treat its clients with respect and honesty.”

Property market: London gets back to the future

estate agents in south west london

The number of homes being sold in London each month exceeded 10,000 between January and March this year- the first time such figures have been recorded since the financial crisis took hold in November 2007.

These figures signal a return to form within London’s property market and an extraordinary start to 2014 during which house prices rose by up to 2.1% each month and 10.9% year on year. Homes within some London boroughs are rising in value even more dramatically; in Wandsworth they have jumped on average by 17.6% annually while in Lambeth the figure is 16.4%.

Reasons for these rises are clear to see. Following nearly six years of slower property market growth in the UK created by economic uncertainty and restricted mortgage availability buyers are finally returning to the market. However the number of properties available has not increased at the same rate, meaning buyers are flooding back only to find a limited to number of homes for sale – a situation that’s particularly acute in London.

This imbalance between demand and supply is leading to intense competition between buyers for the most desirable homes and, consequently, higher and higher offers.

With the market more active than it has been for years, the more innovative Estate agents are expanding to meet demand; for example, South West London agent James Pendleton has expanded its service to Brixton, Streatham, Tooting and Earlsfield this spring. The company, which is known for its emphasis on customer service, has launched an exciting new ad campaign which focuses on making the property search hassle free for the client. There has, many argue, never been a better time to sell.

“The extraordinary performance of the Capital’s property market is feeding through to all its boroughs but in particular into the new homes market; for example, 20 out of 33 London boroughs experienced an increase in new homes building recently,” says Ewen Bunting, Sales Director at James Pendleton.  Ewen can be contacted at the estate agents’ Clapham South and Balham office – 020 8673 7777.

Will the national property market finally turn the corner this year?

There are many regions of the UK where house prices are still below their pre-2007 levels but many experts believe 2014 is shaping up to be the year when the pain of the financial crisis finally ends.

The UK economy is growing at its fastest rate for over seven years, government figures revealed recently, and business leaders speak of a tangible ‘upsurge’ in activity. Also, the International Monetary Fund has predicted economic growth of 2.4% for the UK this year, up from 1.9% in 2013.

Such optimism and increased activity is beginning to feed through to the property market. New homes construction is now at its highest level since 2007, according to The National House Building Council (NHB) which says 133,670 were built in 2013, an increase of 28% on the year before.

Is the UK property market growth finally catching up with London?

Could the UK property market finally catch up with London?

“We believe 2014 is set to be another year when the number of homes built increases and that the recovery in this sector is taking place across the UK rather than only in London,” says Sam Wylie, New Homes Director at South West London Estate Agents James Pendleton. “This echoes the positive growth we’ve seen in the capital over the past three years.”

This confidence about the future, increased by the government’s Help to Buy scheme, is also feeding through to the bedrock of the property market, first time buyers. Recent research by the Post Office revealed that 36% of young adults are expecting to get on the property ladder this year and that more of them are not prepared to make compromises when buying. This includes buying in less desirable areas, for example.

“I can see 2014 being one of the most significant years in recent history for the property market as it finally turns the corner,” says Sam Wylie.

London’s £1m-plus housing market is expanding

If you live in London and your home is worth more than £1 million then you may be one of the 60,000 or more people who joined this relatively exclusive club last year.

Approximately 240,000 apartments and houses in London are now said to be worth £1m or more and it’s a property market that has turned in an extraordinary performance over the past six or so years since the 2008 financial crisis.

As London’s economy continued to recover this year and unemployment hit a four year low at the end of last year so this increased optimism continues to feed through to the top of the market. Over the past 12 months some 10,000 £1m-plus properties were sold in London, up by over 10% compared to the previous 12 months, latest figures reveal.

“James Pendleton is confident that levels of activity in the £1m-plus housing market will continue to increase this year and although the price increases seen in the prime market within London may not reach the highs of 2013 which saw rises of approximately 9% across the Capital, we anticipate this buoyant market to continue,” says the London estate agents’ Sales Director Ewen Bunting.

London estate agents' Sales Director Ewen Bunting

London estate agents’ Sales Director Ewen Bunting

Experts say the London property market, particularly in central London, has become greatly influenced by foreign buyers and last year some £7 billion was spent by them on property within the M25, a level of investment which is expected to be repeated in 2014 despite new government policies designed to reduce tax breaks for non-UK homeowners.

But as central London’s high prices force many £1m home buyers to look elsewhere, estate agents in Clapham South, Fulham, Wandsworth and beyond are seeing more properties at this price being recorded on their streets.