Homes are selling – if asking price is right
5:16pm Wednesday 6th May 2009
NEW figures from the Land Registry show house prices in parts of Gwent may have begun to stabilise.
Values in Newport fell by 0.07 per cent from January to an average of £124,481 in February,while in Torfaen they rose by 0.16 per cent to £115,053.
In Blaenau Gwent, they rose by 3.26 per cent to £78,834.
Although figures indicate that year-on-year house prices remain down by between ten and 17 per cent, the figures could reflect comments from a number of estate agents that confidence has returned to the house market.
Torfaen estate agents say activity is up on earlier in the year. Several said that if a property is realistically priced, they can get a sale.
Mortgages are not beyond home buyers either, although a deposit of at least ten percent is now essential.
The larger the deposit, the more they will be able to take advantage of lower interest rate deals.
But optimism is not held by all – with some agents and home sellers telling the Argus interest remains low.
Estate agents say confidence is up in Newport as people return to the market.
Earlier in February, Taylor Wimpey said they had sold 11 homes at the City Vision development in Rodney Parade.
Mark Roberts, managing director of Roberts and Co estate agents, reflected the housebuilder’s optimism, saying interest was even up from first-time buyers.
He said lending in the market had begun to increase, while lower interest rates made property more affordable, helping confidence return.
“People that have a 10-25 per cent deposit will not have much of a problem in finding a mortgage,” he said.
The proportion by which homes are hit by would depend on how long a home had been on the market, Mr Roberts said.
Those going on the market now may have more realistic prices and may be getting good offers.
Reports from the Centre for Economics and Business Research say the bottom of the market may be reached by the end of the year.
But Mr Roberts suggested it could be a while until values bounce upwards.
“We won’t see price increases for a number of years,” he added.
Nathan Reeks, of Darlows, Cwmbran, said people were buying and selling again in Torfaen, but prices were still dropping.
“We’ve seen a five per cent decrease from January to now,” he said. The company is finding that properties could sell if they are properly marketed and reasonably priced, but how much prices would need to be reduced by may depend on how long the property has been on the market.
But the director added that the 0.5 per cent base rate was not a factor in bringing buyers back to the market.
“Lenders are not passing the rates on,” he said, although he said borrowers could obtain lower rates with larger deposits.
Becky Davies, co-director of Davis and Sons in Pontypool, said the market had picked up since February. “People had been scared off the market,” said Ms Davies.
“You turned on the TV and it was doom and gloom all the time.”
Her colleague and sales valuer Donna Rogers said although mortgages were out there, getting funding now takes longer than in previous years.
Getting a mortgage used to be a ten-minute phone call away, she said, but now lenders would spend 45 minutes to an hour with a financial advisor to settle a deal.
“They have to work a lot harder,” she said. She added that the news that prices have fallen had not sunk in with all home sellers, and Ms Rogers said not all had reduced the cost of their properties.
“Not every price you see is an estate agents’ valuation,” she said.
“Some are keeping to the old prices. But some people are listening to the news and they do understand that the market has fallen.”