Special report: Are house prices in Norfolk soaring?

The overall picture from the regions estate agents was that there have been modest price rises in Norfolk. The overall picture from the regions estate agents was that there have been modest price rises in Norfolk.

Caroline Culot, Property Editor
Thursday, January 23, 2014
6:30 AM

Not in Norfolk – that was the resounding response from estate agents across the county to the idea that house prices are soaring to record levels and a new property bubble could be on the horizon.

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Housing in numbers

The asking price of the average home in Britain increased, national reports claim, by a record breaking £2,406 in January – usually a time when prices are falling – bringing it to £243,861 compared to £229,429 last January.

A booming demand, the government’s Help to Buy scheme and a lack of properties are all being cited as reasons for the hike of 6.3 pc – or £14,432 - in the past year alone. With a one pc rise this month, some national press has been hinting of the market starting to “overheat.”

Adding to the news was the fact the number of homes sold by each individual member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) had reached the highest level for almost six years in the final quarter of 2013, according to a new survey.

The survey revealed there were 21.3 sales per estate agency branch in the period, more than double the low of just 9.8 in the quarter to January 2009 and the highest number since the first quarter of 2008.

However, RICS also warned that the volume of homes coming onto the property market is nowhere near the levels needed to keep up with demand and that house prices in some parts of the country are at risk of becoming “unsustainable”.

In fact the average number of properties being taken onto the books of the 100,000 RICS members reached the lowest level in November recorded since 1997. RICS expects house prices to rise by five pc a year for the next five years.

Agents described recent reports of booming property prices as “nonsense” and “misleading” stating figures being quoted in national reports included those for properties sold in London which is a completely different market where house prices have risen by as much as 15pc over the past three years.

Instead, the overall picture from the region’s estate agents was that there have been modest price rises in Norfolk. Agents also rebuked the idea that there is a housing drought with stock reaching low “Soviet style” proportions. Instead, they stated they were more concerned that properties in Norfolk were being over priced by over zealous agents.

Recent national figures from property portal Rightmove stated the asking price of the average home in Britain had increased by a “record breaking” £2,406 in January to £243,861 compared to £229,429 last January.

It claimed a booming demand, the government’s Help to Buy scheme and a lack of properties as reasons for the hike of as much as 6.3pc – equating to £14,432 – in the past year alone. With prices rising by one per cent this month, some national newspapers have been hinting that the market could be starting to “overheat”.

But Nick Taylor, (pictured), of Hadley Taylor in Norwich, a specialist in the premium Golden Triangle market, said: “Any talk of rises of asking prices is nonsense. The only prices that count are what houses sell for. Rightmove like to talk up the market by telling us asking prices are soaring. Prices are soaring in London because it is an international property market and should not be compared to any other part of Europe let alone any part of the UK. ‘Average UK prices’ is therefore a meaningless term.

“Prices in Norfolk have, however, been rising and will continue to rise this year. This is more to do with supply and demand than it is to do with wage inflation. There is a distinct shortage of stock in Norwich at all price points which is a situation that has been in play since 2009 and it just keeps getting worse.”

Nigel Steele, from Jackson Stops & Staff in Norwich, said: “In most parts of Norfolk we are not yet back to the price levels achieved in 2007 at the height of the boom. In Norfolk there is a slow recovery. The market, however, will not overheat in the foreseeable future.”

Steve Pymm, of Pymm and Co said: “We have seen an increase over the last 12 months of around 10pc but in Norfolk this has only been in the price bracket up to £200,000. I could not say that prices have increased in January.”

Tom Goodley, from Strutt & Parker said: “There are still a number of overpriced houses in Norfolk, with many vendors remaining apathetic as to whether their house sells or not. My main fear is that over-eager agents will start to quote crazy guide prices in order to build their book of property.”

Ben Marchbank, from Bedfords in Burnham Market, which benefits from a healthy second home market, said: “An impending election subdues the property market. It makes it more likely that those sellers considering a sale in the near future will come to market in 2014 rather than risk a slower market in 2015.”

Cameron Black, director at Fine & Country said that although prices were not on the increase, the level of activity was. “We are seeing higher levels in terms of activity in January 2014 compared to January 2013; increased viewings, offers and email enquiries. I am not necessarily increasing my valuations on homes, but we seem to have increased competition which is seeing us agree prices much closer to the asking price.”

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