Estate agents declare a ‘record breaking’ year for sales despite figures showing a 12 per cent nose dive
'Brexit is Brexit and people still want to move' - that was the message from estate agents working in Norfolk and Suffolk who declare 2018 has been a better year for sales than 2017 despite new gloomy figures showing a 12 per cent fall in transactions.
Jonathan Wood, manager of Sowerbys in Norwich said that the office, just one of eight branches around the county, had taken just under £7.5million worth of sales last month alone which was a record. 'August was amazing, with a noticeable increase in the amount of sales compared to 2017 but October was even better, far better for us than 2017 and I think this was down to quality of instructions, pricing and brand.
'But as an agent, you have to be proactive, you have to work this market. November has also been good - the only effect of Brexit has been that some people have brought forward sales becaause they feel slightly nervous about next year but the message seems to be that Brexit is Brexit and people still want to move.'
The ONS, Office for National Statistics figures published yesterday showed that up to the end of July, 8,182 properties were sold in Norfolk, 12 per cent down from the same period in 2017. In Suffolk, in the same period, 6,603 properties were sold, an 8pc drop.
Between January and July, 928 new homes were sold in Norfolk, 13 per cent down from 2017.
Paul Le Grice, managing director of Abel Homes, which builds new houses across Norfolk and Suffolk, said it had sold 10 per cent more houses this year compared to last. 'There is still a pent up demand for new homes but we have seen reservations down over the past couple of months and hesitation because of the uncertainty of Brexit.
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'However, we are not discounting, prices are holding up and it could be a strong factor that we are building energy efficient homes which are low maintenance and mean you can control your own destiny regarding costs and we are still launching new sites for next year.'
Joanna McIntyre, at Musker McIntyre with offices in both Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'We have seen a slight drop in transactions from January to July, however, the current period seems to still be buoyant with plenty of properties coming onto the market and offers coming in from buyers keen to move. However, the drop in figures may not be due just to Brexit. Generally speaking, people do not move as often as they used to due to the increases in stamp duty, difficulties in finding the deposit money for first time buyers and also the fact that many people may extend their current properties to create more living space.
Nick Taylor, chairman of the Norwich and District Association of Estate Agents and managing director of Norwich-based Hadley Taylor estate agents, said: 'Consumers are being very cautious about any sort of investment whether it be a property, a car or a pension so the sooner we are done with Brexit the better. Perhaps it would have been better to have exited the EU in 2016 as we would have avoided two years of economic uncertainty and already be on the road to greater prosperity.
'I think it's fair to say that house prices in Norfolk have increased by about 2pc to 3pc during the last 12 months. However, it is very unlikely that we will see any house price inflation during the next 12 months. In other words, the market has topped out and we have seen the last of property price inflation for the time being. Transaction levels continue to be subdued and one of the reasons for this has to be Brexit uncertainty.'
Martyn Baum, group residential manager at property agency Arnolds Keys, said: 'The housing market lives or dies according to confidence. What we are seeing with the political uncertainty is a pause in the housing market however, unlike 10 years ago, the economy is fairly strong, unemployment is low, interest rates are low, it's just there is some apprehension concerning Brexit.'