The Going Rate

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The Independent Online
NEW MALDEN is showing that clouds over the property field may be lifting. Second-time buyers dominate this west London suburb, moving out of small city-centre flats into traditional Thirties semis to find space and schools for new and growing families.

'Everything was dead for 18 months because there were no first-buyers taking their old homes. But the market has recovered since interest rates came down a couple of months ago,' says Gavin Fleming, of Winkworth.

Prices are still being squeezed, however. A three-bed terrace in Berisford Road sold in four weeks but came down by almost pounds 15,000, to pounds 60,000, he says. A large semi house in Clarence Avenue took six months, falling by the same amount, to pounds 120,000, and another in Cambridge Avenue took as long to sell and dropped by almost pounds 20,000, to pounds 140,000.

But a three-bedder in the conservation area of Sycamore Grove dropped only pounds 4,000, to pounds 108,000, during its three months on the market. A terraced version in Mount Road lost pounds 6,000 but went in a week for pounds 94,000, while a three-bed detached in Purbeck Avenue also went in seven days for pounds 125,000, down less than pounds 5,000.

NEWBURY has held on to the strengths of a close-knit market town despite a big influx of hi-tech industry into the Thames Valley in the last 10 years. One of these strengths is trust, says Peter Mercade, of the agents Dreweatt Neate. 'People accept our advice about realistic asking prices rather than run around looking for someone who will pick a higher figure out of a hat.'

Homes therefore tend to sell more quickly than in many other towns, as owners allow a hefty bite out of values that soared during the boom. A one-bed conversion in the town centre went in six weeks after falling from pounds 65,500 to pounds 62,500, while a four-bed detached home in a nearby village took only a month to sell for pounds 165,000, down pounds 3,000 from the asking price.

This realistic approach can even throw up buyers willing to match asking prices. A three-bed detached in another village achieved the pounds 85,000 asked in only a fortnight and a four-bed detached in the town took five weeks to sell at pounds 170,000. Some deals are even better than owners expect. Two buyers were so keen on a three-bed waterside cottage that they bid up the price until it sold for pounds 190,000, some pounds 10,000 above the amount asked.