Winter Property News - 01/11/19

As the cold weather descends upon us, one of the major issues in the market at the moment, and something we have being stressing to both sellers and buyers for the past two years, is that sales transactions times are taking longer and longer making it imperative to choose both the right agent AND the right conveyancer.  Cheap conveyancing fees usually means poor, sometimes even inept, service so please beware!

PropTech firm, EMEA Matterport has calculated the different delays that lead to transactions taking an average 120 days (and often much longer) from SSTC to completion.  They reported that it takes on average, six months and 24 days to purchase a home, which is staggering really. The report looked at the entire process from searching for a property online through to completion with the longest element being the exchange of contracts. Another company, View My Chain, has been able to break this down even further, looking at the key milestones between SSTC to completion which makes interesting, yet frustrating, reading for those stuck in this cycle.  

The average times for the process were as follows;

Legal Timeline:

Milestone 1 - SSTC to Searches ordered: 23 days

Milestone 2 – Searches ordered to Searches Returned: 10.2 days (UK average)

Milestone 3 – Searches Returned to Enquiries satisfied: 31 days

Milestone 4 – Enquiries Satisfied to Ready to Exchange: 7 days

Milestone 5 – Ready to Exchange to Exchange: 8 days

Milestone 6 – Exchange to Completion: 7 days

Financial Timeline:

Milestone 1 – SSTC to Mortgage Application: 17 days

Milestone 2 – Mortgage Application to Mortgage offered: 21 days

As we often find to our cost, some conveyancing firms are notoriously slow in dealing with enquires mainly due to staffing issues and this can frustrate both buyers and sellers (and us agents) and even cause sales to fall through.  We always advise all our clients to choose from a recommended panel who can be relied upon to be as proactive as possible.  At Robert Watts our average sale to exchange time is currently 85 days which does make a huge difference and we can offer more secure methods of sale where this is reduced to 56 days, so there is a definite choice to make here.

Stock levels in the market continue to fall and Rightmove reports that the number of new sellers bringing their homes to the market is down 14.9% compared with this time a year.  This is the biggest year-on-year fall in any month since August 2009 and the number of sales agreed is also down, by 2.9% on this time last year. However asking prices for houses new to the market are slightly up – by 0.6% – on a year ago which is positive.  We agree with Rightmove who said that many prospective sellers have postponed their marketing plans, deterred by Brexit and the general election, although we do see active buyers still wanting to buy in key areas and we don’t believe the market has dried up.  We have recently sold a house with over asking price bids within one hour of marketing so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Another positive piece of news from Savills says Yorkshire could see the UK’s second highest rise in property values over the next five years as the north trumps the south in predicted house price growth. Values in our region are forecast to rise by 21.6 per cent between 2020 and 2024, which is nice.

The UK average rise is predicted to be 15.3 per cent over the next five years, however the calculations are based on some big assumptions namely that the forthcoming general election does not result in a significant shift in policy and that the UK achieves an orderly exit from the EU over the course of 2020 and avoids recession. They also assume that the bank base rate increases gradually to 2% by the end of 2024, constraining mortgage affordability and therefore house price growth.  We won’t hold our breath then but overall some positive news for houses prices in our neck of the woods.

May we finally take this opportunity to wish all our customers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, whatever it may bring.