2016 has certainly been an eventful year; first there was Brexit, followed by a new Prime Minister, then Trump and at the same time we’ve seen a number of property related legislative changes such as the increase in stamp duty and the introduction of tenants’ Right to Rent.
Whatever is happening politically, life never stops moving and people still need to move for jobs, to upsize, downsize, to get married, divorced, start a family and so on. Talking to our expert agents from our branches throughout the UK, it is clear that it has been another busy, albeit fluctuating year and we’re delighted to share some of their comments here, from Marylebone in Central London to Middlesbrough in the North East and many areas in between.
As we continue to expand our business, we are also pleased to welcome a number of new Hunters branches this year with the roll-out of new branches on-track to exceed 30 for the third consecutive year. Our new locations include Retford, Keighley, Chadwell Heath, Widnes, Medway, Ashton in Makerfield, Kettering, Netley Abbey, Hillsborough and Ripon. You can find all our branches here.
John Oswell runs 6 Hunters branches in the Midlands and offered the following comments: “Demand from house buyers during 2016 remained consistently good throughout the year and there was no real change in our area following Brexit, despite the predictions of gloom and market crashes. New Homes sales have been buoyant as buyers continue to be drawn to more energy efficient homes with the latest kitchens and bathrooms. Homes above £1.2m have been difficult to sell mainly because of Stamp Duty increases.”
“The Lettings market has been consistent throughout the year and Hunters Midlands have continued to grow their stock of managed property.” Andy Thomas from Hunters Harborne agrees that Lettings has remained steady throughout the year, with properties generally being let in the first few days.
John Ozwell continued, “In 2017 most experts are predicting ‘much of the same’ with no real growth in housing transactions and so the main thrust will be to secure a larger slice of the smaller cake available. We expect Lettings to continue its steady growth with the established demand for rental property continuing to consolidate across the Midlands region.”
“Generally speaking, as long as there are no UK or worldwide events that damage our economy, property activity will be similar to 2016 but certainly demand will continue for all aspects of housing due to shortage of availability.” Andy Thomas affirms that this has been his main issue this year, but hopes that January will bring a levelling out of available properties.
John Ozwell, Hunters Group in West Midlands
Andy Thomas, Hunters Harborne
“The housing market throughout the Teesside area has remained resilient throughout 2016. There were some signs of uncertainty in June and July, however this slight fall in sales transactions has since proven to be people delaying their move rather than deciding not to. The last quarter of the year has been extremely busy, with sales up around 27% compared to the same period last year.”
“The North East is always one of the last regions to react to general house price changes. Here at Hunters we are very positive that 2017 will be our time to catch up and see the recent house price growth most other towns and cities in the UK have already witnessed.”
“Recent second home mortgage relief and Stamp Duty Tax changes have actually proven to be a benefit to our area. We are receiving an unprecedented demand from 'out of the area' investors looking for cheaper, higher yielding properties that “stack up” for them. Many investors have now changed direction from the traditional residential lets and to the student lettings market. Homes of this type situated close to Teesside University regularly produce double digit returns, with some properties offering up to 20% yields.”
“2016 has proven to be another buoyant year for lettings and our Teesside office has finished the year with an increase in the number of properties we currently manage. Bearing in mind all the legislative changes made in the past year this is a great achievement.”
“With unemployment in the region falling coupled with record low borrowing costs we expect the high level of sale transactions we are currently experiencing to continue into and beyond the first quarter of 2017. We have helped more people to move than ever before and we are all looking forward to building on our success throughout 2017.”
Chris Preston and Georgina Evans, Hunters Teesside
Martin Robinson, National Sales Manager for Hunters Property Group reported the following for the Yorkshire region: “2016 has seen price rises between 3-5% and the market has still been short of good houses. Finance has been available to buyers as a result of stable interest rates, a stable economy and full employment. We welcome the government’s assurance to build new homes in 2017; more stock, if priced correctly, will undoubtedly stabilise markets. Up until early December, we had sold over 4200 properties in 2016 throughout our Yorkshire branches with branches reporting steady stream of activity even in the run up to Christmas.”
“The lettings market has remained strong in our branches across Yorkshire in 2016 with high levels of demand and activity in places such as Leeds, Harrogate, Easingwold and Wetherby. We predict activity to remain strong in 2017.”
Stephen Goff, Franchise Partner at Hunters in Sheffield Crookes told us: “Sheffield has the cheapest properties in the country for a large city and as such the increase in stamp duty on expensive properties has had no effect with the extra 3% on buy to let investments having been minimal. The popular south west area has retained a high demand with increased prices of 5% - 10% over the year and are now frequently above the 2008 high point before the financial crash.”
“The north side of the City is still not in high demand and prices have remained static, still well below 2008 in some areas. Rents have been buoyant all year with an average terrace or semi fetching £600 - £700 PCM and often let with two weeks. Landlords are still buying with a yield of around 7%-9% and Hunters Sheffield Crookes have let 38% more properties than in 2015.”
Martin Robinson, Hunters Head Office
Stephen Goff, Hunters Sheffield Crookes
“What a year! For the Northern Home Counties, 2016 must go down in history as one of the most ‘up and down’ years on record. It started with a flurry, and although not as much property choice as one would like, still very busy. Then we had the UEFA Championships, Olympics, Brexit and the effect on the market was more like something from Strictly Come Dancing, slow, slow, quick, quick, slow! The good news is, we seem to be ending with a busier than usual marketplace for December and things are looking strong for the start of 2017.”
“Generally, if there is more choice it encourages more movement and our figures are currently showing a 40% increase in choice going into 2017 compared with last year. Together with consistently large numbers of potential buyers and tenants registering with us each month, it all points towards 2017 being a healthy year for the housing market in our area, regardless of whether you are looking to buy, sell, let or rent.”
Ian Wilson, Country Properties Baldock, part of Hunters.
“2016 started out as a promising year, however when Governments meddle in the property market the shine quickly comes away. The two monumental decisions this year that took effect on the property market being the 3% stamp duty on second homes and of course Brexit.”
“The property market reacted accordingly in Marylebone and across Prime Central London. Whilst the market was already wobbling due to price rises in 2015 and banks making it harder to obtain finance, we saw a boost in sales pre-April, the market then went quiet. Once the Brexit decision was made in June the pound suffered and investors who held their monies in Euro’s or Dollar’s took advantage of the exchange rate and invested, creating a short spike in transactions. We sold a number of apartments between the £1 – 2 million price range and a number of £5 million plus houses also sold at this time. Like the rest of the UK, the area has suffered a shortage of stock and the buyers now seem to have taken a step back.”
“The rental market in Marylebone has suffered this year, for the first time in a decade rental prices are showing a negative growth. This in my view is due to several factors; over supply, Brexit, price rises over the last 5 years and transport links into London getting better. The main summer market in our area was as usual busy, with students making up 40% of our tenants it is easy to see why. The cooperate market has shrunk this year as we seem to be getting lots of renewals as tenants stay where they are.”
“2017 will be an interesting year, President Donald Trump will take centre stage in January, Germany and Holland will be having their general elections which could add to the potential downfall of the European market and the Euro, and the UK will start their Brexit negotiations by the end of March. One thing however, remains consistent, Prime Central London is the world’s capital and wealthy people throughout the globe wish to invest monies into our property market. That is why I would always recommend London as the place to park your money.”
Matthew Fine, Hunters Marylebone