Independent on Sunday Housing Market Report: Upmarket homes lead the property recovery

SOME houses of particular quality are selling for more than the asking price as activity picks up in the property market, according to the first Independent on Sunday Housing Market Report.

It shows that sale prices in general are now much closer to asking prices than they were over the same period last year - evidence that the three-year slump may be coming to an end.

Details from independent estate agencies confirm that the market began to revive in the first six months of the year, with house hunters surging out to view in April and May, then fell back slightly in the hot weeks of June.

But the fact that some high- quality houses are fetching more than the asking price does not mean that gazumping is back. Competing buyers are simply outbidding each other before an offer is formally accepted.

Another good sign is that the number of sales falling through dropped sharply in June. Deals that collapsed did so because the buyer or seller had a change of heart rather than because they had been discouraged by a nit- picking surveyor downvaluing the property - a common complaint at the end of last year.

Unlike other market surveys, the Independent on Sunday Housing Market Report is drawn from information provided exclusively by independent estate agents with a strong local presence and a stake in the discerning end of the middle market. It provides a voice for the smaller firms against the views already being expressed by large national chains.

Many of the small independents are long-established. Some have only one office; others have several across a region.

The Independent on Sunday Housing Market Report differs in other ways, too.

It is designed to measure activity in the market rather than simply to detect microscopic movements in prices which sometimes confuse rather than clarify. The Nationwide Building Society has said that the monthly house- price index for June showed a rise of 1.6 per cent over May, and an overall rise in the first half of the year of 3.5 per cent. It added that the average UK house price had gone up by pounds 844 in June, to pounds 53,710.

Yesterday the Halifax Building Society announced that house prices had fallen by 1.1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, following a 1.2 per cent drop in May.

The Halifax had, however, noted slight price increases in April, and it cautiously predicts similar slight rises for the end of the year, with a possible 5 per cent increase by the end of 1994.

The IoS, by contrast, has confined its survey to an analysis of hard figures: the numbers of properties valued for sale compared with the number actually put on the market; the number of house hunters registering with agents; the offers accepted, plus exchanges and completions.

The main finding is that, in spite of increased activity from house hunters, sales figures are only marginally up on those for the same period last year, though there is more confidence.

The 86 estate agents' offices that took part recorded 938 new properties coming on to the market during June. Generally, agents were getting one property to sell for every two valuations they carried out. An analysis of 52 of the offices showed a total of 845 valuations translating into 477 houses for sale.

The anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that many more home owners are thinking of selling than are actually entering the market. This is borne out by the fact that the number of viewings by potential purchasers is well up on the end of last year.

Roughly one-fifth of the properties on the market with independent agents were sold or put under offer during June. A sample of 69 offices recorded a total of 6,189 properties on their books, yielding 715 exchanges and completions plus a further 547 offers accepted. These offers in turn will fuel the high summer market and should add a little strength to the autumn market when they will be due to complete.

However, many agents report that viewings went flat during June. James Green, of Stags estate agents in the village of Dulverton on the southern edge of Exmoor, said his viewing diary halved. 'I think that March, April and May were busy because people were coming out of renting and into buying. They have all bought now and we are back to stalemate. The other interesting thing is that there aren't enough houses on the market. Job security is a problem, and people's wages aren't increasing.'

But Russell Whitlock, of Whitlocks in Penzance, reports an increase in viewings. 'There is a considerable amount of window- shopping going on which is very frustrating for the vendor, but then again if no one comes even to see your house you haven't a hope in Hades of selling it.'

The pattern across the country is similar, with estate agents in the North enjoying the fact that country properties in their region are attracting similar prices to those in the South. Viewings and sales figures are highest with agents in London, Wiltshire, Berks, Oxon, Hampshire and East Anglia.

It is at the upper end of the market where pretty properties with a romance factor, including those in need of restoration, are fetching more than the asking price.

In Chelsea and elsewhere in west London, for instance, John D Wood has recently sold four properties in the pounds 200,000- pounds 650,000 range for up to pounds 25,000 more than the asking price.

Another agent priced a property at pounds 600,000 and eventually sold it for nearly double.

JANET WIGGINS feels she has suffered to sell her two-bedroom garden flat in west London. It first went on the market in March 1992, but she had to wait until spring this year before she suddenly found four buyers all wanting it.

In 1992 the flat was priced at pounds 110,000. This March it was cut to pounds 105,000, and then pounds 99,950; 25 people came to view, but she felt they were simply cruising through like tourists.

Then she dropped the price to pounds 92,500, and 13 people came in a single week at the end of June. Buyer A offered pounds 92,500. Buyer B topped it with pounds 93,000, buyer C with pounds 94,000, and buyer D with pounds 94,000. Buyer A countered with pounds 96,500 and offered to exchange and complete by the end of July.

However, Janet says she is still pounds 35,500 short of what she spent on it. 'I bought it for pounds 122,000 and spent at least pounds 10,000 on landscaping the garden and other things. It has taken a long time to sell, I have been mucked about by potential buyers, and at the end of it I have still lost financially.'

(Photograph and table omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition