'I don't predict a huge drop': Have Norfolk property prices peaked?
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Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that buyers scrambling to complete before the Stamp Duty holiday pushed house prices to a record high in June this year.
House prices rose by 13.2pc over the year to June, faster than at any point since November 2004, and bumped the average house price to a record £266,000. Growth was slightly lower in the East of England, where prices rose by 12.1pc.
Yet figures released by Rightmove this week, reflecting a more contemporary market, suggest that activity is slowing.
According to the website, asking prices in August have dipped by around £1,000, or 0.3pc nationally, and around 0.2pc in the East. Bigger homes with at least four bedrooms are said to be driving the fall.
But despite the figures, Norfolk property agents say the market is buoyant.
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Will Lightfoot, sales director at Sowerbys, which has nine branches, including in Norwich, King's Lynn, Burnham Market and Holt, says that although they've seen a slight drop in figures compared to previous months, properties are still selling well above their asking prices.
"We have seen a slight drop compared to previous months, however, properties with Sowerbys have still achieved on average ten thousand pounds above asking price.
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"When you consider August is typically a quieter month for the market, due to school holidays and vacations, it paints an exceptional picture of how the Norfolk market compares to other parts of the country."
Peter Hornor, chartered surveyor, partner and head of Norwich residential at Brown & Co, agrees that the market has slowed slightly - but says it's nothing out of the ordinary: “The market is quiet, normal for August and prices can’t keep going up forever."
Henry Cockerton, partner and head of residential, also at Brown & Co, says that demand for Norfolk homes is still high. "If you have a good quality house and put it on the market tomorrow, it will sell," he explains.
"We are seeing houses sell in two or three weeks which is well below the previous average of four to six weeks, if not more. We had 40 viewings on a property recently and seven offers, receiving £200,000 over the asking price."
Low supply and high demand is also helping the local market. "We are still experiencing a great shortage of supply against high levels of interest and fast turn-around when a property comes to market," says Will Lightfoot.
"This alludes to strong prospects going into September - a period where we historically see a market which has dropped off pick up again. Looking ahead, I don't predict a huge drop in prices over the latter half of the year, although the end of the stamp duty holiday will likely have a slight impact on offers received moving forwards."
In response to the unique market conditions, Savills recently revised its house price forecasts. The firm now expects an average growth of 9pc in the UK this year, and 21.5pc over the next five years. In the East of England, it is expecting a growth of 8pc, and 18pc over the next five years.
Commenting on the figures, Natalie Howlett-Clarke, joint head of residential sales at Savills Norwich, says: "Since the market reopened last year, house price growth has been driven by buyers less reliant on mortgage debt who are able to lock into fixed interest rates.
"Some of that growth could unwind at any time during the next 12 months, but we see nothing on the horizon that would trigger a major house price correction.
"Such strong rises in 2021 are likely to leave less capacity for house price growth over the next few years, with annual increases expected to be relatively modest between 2022 and 2025. Setting a realistic guide price from the start will be key to maintaining momentum."
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