'Oh no,' groaned the agent, 'the last thing I need is another cash buyer.' Hampshire, it seems, has run out of family houses

Click to follow
Fear of unemployment and debt is the major factor depressing the housing market, according to a new survey for the Council of Mortgage Lenders. The survey found that potential first-time buyers were too scared about losing their jobs to risk taking out a mortgage and existing buyers were too scared to increase their current loan. The other most common reasons for delaying a first purchase were that the costs of buying and maintaining a house were too high and that reselling might be difficult.

Only 17 per cent of those questioned - who covered the full adult age range - said they were likely to buy in the next two years, though 84 per cent said they wanted to be home owners in 10 years time. There was, unsurprisingly, strong support for measures to reduce the costs of buying, with 60 per cent of those surveyed backing special tax relief for people with negative equity.

Lenders have been responding to buyers' fears by introducing mortgage packages which include unemployment protection. Now estate agents are following suit. General Accident announced this week that it will pay for six months mortgage protection for vendors who instruct its estate agency arm before the end of January 1996 and complete before the end of July or buyers who agree to purchase by the same date.

For What It's Worth

A couple who sold their four-bedroom home in West Sussex within one hour of putting it on the market walked into an estate agents in Hampshire and announced they were serious cash buyers. "Oh no," groaned the agent, "the last thing I need is another cash buyer." Hampshire, it seems, has run out of family houses. The worst shortages are in the pounds 220,000 to pounds 300,000 price range, the most popular for families moving out from London.

Hamptons says three quarters of its current buyers are cash customers or have sold their homes subject to contract. The southern-based agency says the county most in demand is Surrey, with West Sussex, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire all very popular. The best tactic for sellers in such a climate is not to stick 20 per cent on their asking price, but to pitch it at a level which will attract large numbers of buyers and leave them to fight it out.

Who's Moving

Aspiring trainers may be interested in buying the stables that were home to Desert Orchid, the great grey steeplechaser who became a household name. The horse's trainer, James Burridge, is leaving the Manor House in Leicestershire horse country at Ab Kettleby near Melton Mowbray. The 17th-century house, with five bedrooms, four reception rooms, nine loose boxes and 13 acres of land, is being sold by John D Wood (0171-493 4106) with a guide price of pounds 390,000.


Lowndes Square, London SW1

This apartment is so minimalist that even the walls can be hidden away. Designed by architect John Pawson, with an open cheque, it has Japanese oak floors, a bath carved from a solid slab of marble and not a single extraneous visible feature. The apartment is 900 square feet and can be divided into two bedrooms, a bathroom, study and kitchen by the use of sliding glass walls. It is being sold by Kathini Graham in Knightsbridge, London SW7, (0171-584 3285) for pounds 425,000.