The housing market remains busy. Compared to the last ‘normal’ market of 2019, buyer enquiries are up 31% and mortgage approvals and sales are up by 12% and 11% respectively. However, there are half as many properties available to buy and stock levels are down 55% (Rightmove, HMRC, Bank of England). The prolonged mismatch between demand and supply continues to support prices. On average, properties are selling subject to contract in just 31 days, the quickest time ever recorded. With competition for properties remaining high, Rightmove report that asking prices have hit their fourth consecutive record high in as many months.
Over 433,000 homes in the UK changed hands in the first four months of 2022, making this the third busiest start to a year since 2007. Last year was an exceptional year due to Covid-19 and 2016 saw a surge prior to the introduction of the 3% additional homes surcharge. Except for last year, April 2022 has been the busiest since 2007 (Dataloft, HMRC). An estimated one in every 20 properties has changed hands across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire in the past year. Central Bedfordshire and Dacorum are currently the most active housing markets in the region.
A perfect storm
Economic headwinds are gaining momentum. Expectations of global and UK economic growth have been pared back, while consumer confidence has plummeted to its lowest level since records began in 1974. Optimism is weaker than during the global financial crisis, Brexit or Covid-19 (GfK). The Covid recovery, war in Ukraine and rising energy and food prices, alongside a strong labour market and low unemployment, have created a perfect storm. Inflation is pushing a 40-year high. Thanks to fixed-rate mortgages, many households are cushioned from the impact of the latest base rate rise, but day-to-day budgets are increasingly feeling the squeeze.
Double-digit property price growth remains evident in localities in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, with annual price growth in the East of England currently stronger than it was a year ago (ONS, UK HPI). Across the region there is less than two months of available stock left to sell, down by almost half on the historical norm.
Slow gear change
For many, the question is when, not if, the property market will start to moderate. However, any gear change is liable to be slow and steady, and not an emergency brake as was the case in the global financial crisis of 2008. Forecasters still anticipate positive price growth over the course of the year. Market fundamentals remain strong. A strong desire to move remains in the minds of many and there is a shortage of properties, compounded by data indicating that new home completions remain below pre-Covid levels and short of the government’s 300,000 homes target.
Properties for sale in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, 4 bedrooms
The Forge is an aesthetically pleasing four-bedroom detached character filled family home originally built in 1740, which has been greatly improved and extended by the current owners providing spacious accommodation sympathetic to the character nature with a modern and stylish twist. A feature of the property is the open plan kitchen, dining, living area with bi-folding doors and roof lantern providing perfect entertaining space and leading out to the garden and seating areas.
Watford, Hertfordshire, 3 bedrooms
This attractive three-bedroom semi-detached house is within a short distance of several schools and major road links including the A41, M25 and M1. The accommodation comprises entrance hall, lounge/dining room, ground floor WC, kitchen and to the first floor is a landing, three bedrooms and four-piece bath/shower room. Externally, there is a front and rear garden plus a garage and off-street parking for one car.
Greenfield, Bedfordshire, 5 bedrooms
This well-presented five-bedroom detached house is tucked away within a small development on an exclusive private road that is located just yards from open countryside. The property enjoys light and airy family accommodation with generous size rooms throughout providing versatile living space that is ideal for modern day living.
As property prices and demand continue to rise, sell your property with experts in the property industry this spring. Contact your local Guild Member today.