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 the South East Home Counties, Kent and East Sussex in the past year. Tonbridge and Maidstone 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 many localities in the region, with annual price growth in the South East currently stronger than it was a year ago (ONS, UK HPI). Across the South East 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 the South East
This four-bedroom Georgian-style fronted detached house, is set back from the road with the benefit of a large rear garden. This period property provides a wealth of features with versatile accommodation and impressive external entertaining area set on the edge of Beckley village.
This very well-presented and considerably extended, four bedroom, three bathroom semi-detached family home is situated on Starts Hill Road, well located for the ever-popular Darrick Wood schools, Locksbottom High Street with its array of popular restaurants and shops, Orpington Station with fast routes available to the City and local walks including Tugmutton Common.
Green Haven is a substantial detached residence, adjoining open farmland situated on the outskirts of Ringwould and with views at the rear to the Channel. Located midway between Deal and Dover there are local shops and amenities in neighbouring Kingsdown and Upper Walmer and Martin Mill station is about 2 miles distant. The house, which has been extended over the years, now provides attractively presented and versatile accommodation on two floors with all of the principal rooms benefitting from the lovely views. Features include tiled flooring, bevelled glass doors, recessed spotlighting, coved ceilings, triple glazing and solar panels.
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.