Hot Spot: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

A natural selection

If Shrewsbury's most famous son, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), had stalled his birth for 150 years, he would not have had to traipse to the Galapagos Islands for evidence of natural selection. Instead of finches and tortoises, he could have examined gazumping, or gazundering (reducing an offer just prior to contract-signing), mortgage small-print and shabby surveys, and other prime specimens in the dog-eat-dog world of property.

Much of Shrewsbury is still as it was in Darwin's day, although it has expanded and, in recent decades, seen an influx of modern developments. "Shrewsbury is a medieval city with Georgian and Victorian quarters, and in the last 15 years we have had many large developments by national volume builders and quality local builders," explains Russell Griffin of Samuel Wood estate agents.

"A considerable amount of buying and selling is occurring within these developments as people keep up with the Joneses and move from a starter-home to a semi and then to a detached." Outsiders, primarily from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Telford, snap up homes in the £50,000 to £200,000 range.

"This is an aggressive, perverse market reminiscent of the late 1980s, with many sellers over-cooking the market by trying on prices which seem ridiculously high," says Mr Griffin. "Valuers tend to be well-trained, but traditional; so sellers are using what I call "vendor valuations". About half of these sellers are successful."

The higher end of the market is also sizzling: "We still have a shortage of good-sized family houses with five or more acres, and properties such as these are increasing in value well above the national average," says Mark Wiggin of Lane Fox estate agents. "Estates have also been in short supply. We have more than 75 buyers wanting properties in the £650,000 range."

Investors are enjoying rising rents as well as capital values, sometimes on the back of inadvertently captive tenants: "Many frustrated purchasers have cash in the bank from a property they have sold, and they are renting until they find the right house. They often stay in a rental property longer than intended because they cannot face two moves in rapid succession. They become more despairing as they see the market rise in an apparently endless cycle."

Mr Wiggin and Mr Griffin agree that many buyers at the higher end of the market are escapees from the overinflated south east, whether Surreyites cashing in their chips or stockbroker-belt wannabes who are priced out of their first-choice area.

"We anticipate an excellent year for sellers," says Mr Wiggin, "but buyers will have to remain alert, and as soon as they have found a suitable property, they must be in a position to exchange contracts immediately." Evolutionary bio-logists and property mavens alike will recognise this phenomenon as survival of the fastest.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Property search
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk