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OUT NOW! Winkworth Country Life Special: No time like the present

Dominic Agace, Winkworth’s CEO, tells Anna Tyzack why the run-up to the General Election is the best moment to buy a property   Although caution typically characterises the property market during a General Election year, it could be that we look back on 2015 as a rare window of opportunity, says Dominic Agace, CEO of Winkworth. ‘There are lots of positives at the moment and the landscape of the property market is changing. It could be an exciting time to invest.’ Activity is less frenetic than it was in early 2014, when, particularly in parts of London, prices were moving up so fast that it was impossible to judge when to jump in or out. The second half of the year, however, was calmer. ‘Concerns over a change of government are putting brakes on the market,’ Mr Agace explains. ‘Plus, there’s added uncertainty over possible modifications to Stamp Duty and the introduction of a “mansion tax”.’ Nonetheless, this pre-election period could be a good time to invest, according to Mr Agace. House prices have fallen by 5%–10% since last summer as wages have increased for the first time since the economic crisis. Mortgage rates are falling and interest rates are now not anticipated to rise until 2016. ‘You can get a 10-year fixed mortgage for 2.99% at the moment, which is unprecedented,’ he says. ‘If you want to buy in a leisurely paced market and lock in to cheap mortgage rates, now is the time to do it.’ With fewer people buying and selling, rents have also bounced back, making it a good time to be a landlord. Mr Agace advises would-be buy-to-let investors to consider thriving cities with good yields, such as Bath and Reading, as well as central London. In London, the mid-market is where the majority of transactions are taking place: buyers are looking to upsize from a flat to a house priced up to £950,000. ‘Flat prices are strong, thanks to recent wage increases, but house prices have come down,’ explains Mr Agace. In February, a flat in Parsons Green, marketed by Winkworth Fulham at £850,000, attracted a bidding war, eventually selling for £950,000. South London neighbourhoods such as Tooting, Kennington, Brockley and Vauxhall are popular locations for upsizers looking for space and period charm: an attractive Victorian house with a large garden a short distance from Kennington tube station (on the Northern line) is currently for sale for £895,000. ‘These kind of houses make fairly safe investments as, in the worst-case scenario, you could live in it forever,’ advises Mr Agace. At the top end of the market, prices are still strong, but the atmosphere is more guarded, both in London and the countryside. Prices are firm for houses up to and above £2 million, but there have been fewer transactions, with many buyers waiting to discover if a ‘mansion tax’ will be introduced. European buyers in particular are holding off purchasing, partly because of the strengthening pound, partly because of political uncertainty. ‘Up until recently, London was relatively cheap for international buyers, but, now, they’re not rushing ahead to do deals,’ Mr Agace says. This has led to an over-supply of luxury flats in the capital, with certain developers forced to reduce prices to attract buyers. The upshot of a calmer London market is that buyers are becoming less wedded to the capital and are, instead, basing their property search on schools or quality of life. ‘Until recently, prices in London have been going up so fast that no one has had the nerve to leave,’ Mr Agace explains. ‘It felt as if you’d be losing money if you left the market, but the financial incentive for staying in the capital has become less pronounced.’ These buyers are now cashing in on their London homes—the value of which has risen considerably over the past five years—and basing themselves in or near outlying cities such as Winchester and Canterbury with good schools and a better quality of life. ‘A small house in Shepherd’s Bush can translate to a five-bedroom house in the country with change,’ he notes. London’s European homeowners are also seizing the opportunity to make the move back to Europe while the pound is still strong. ‘If you’re in your forties with young children, there doesn’t seem much point in waiting for prices to start rising in London,’ Mr Agace continues. British buyers have also started to set their sights on Europe once again, a market they’ve been absent from since the financial crisis. Winkworth is receiving enquiries for second homes in established destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal, where prices are still 20% lower than they were at the peak. ‘A stronger pound and less interesting London market is bringing British buyers back to Europe,’ Mr Agace says. In south-west France, an attractive Quercy-noise pigeonnier with five bedrooms, pool and three acres, on the market for €580,000, is attracting a high level of interest. ‘If you’re beginning to earn more money, now is the time to make a lifestyle investment to enjoy with your family,’ Mr Agace urges. Any opportunities to make a shrewd property investment could be short-lived, however. Historically, the market picks up by about 10% in the quarter following the General Election, depending on how quickly a new government gets its act together. Research by Winkworth suggests that, in every election since 1997, the increase in properties sold in the three months after the election has exceeded what would be expected from the long-run average for a non-election year—in 2007, sales increased by 24.8% compared with the previous three months. ‘Experience tells us to expect a post-election bounce in sales and prices in 2015 and a busy second half of the year,’ Mr Agace says. ‘There’s no time like the present to invest in a recovering economy.’ This article was taken from the Winkworth Country Life special. To read more great articles like this, get the full edition here.   If you're looking to buy, sell, rent or let then click here to book your appointment with one of our local experts.

Dominic Agace, Winkworth’s CEO, tells Anna Tyzack why the run-up to the General Election is the best moment to buy a property

  Although caution typically characterises the property market during a General Election year, it could be that we look back on 2015 as a rare window of opportunity, says Dominic Agace, CEO of Winkworth. ‘There are lots of positives at the moment and the landscape of the property market is changing. It could be an exciting time to invest.’

Activity is less frenetic than it was in early 2014, when, particularly in parts of London, prices were moving up so fast that it was impossible to judge when to jump in or out. The second half of the year, however, was calmer. ‘Concerns over a change of government are putting brakes on the market,’ Mr Agace explains. ‘Plus, there’s added uncertainty over possible modifications to Stamp Duty and the introduction of a “mansion tax”.’ Bestbuy1small Nonetheless, this pre-election period could be a good time to invest, according to Mr Agace. House prices have fallen by 5%–10% since last summer as wages have increased for the first time since the economic crisis. Mortgage rates are falling and interest rates are now not anticipated to rise until 2016. ‘You can get a 10-year fixed mortgage for 2.99% at the moment, which is unprecedented,’ he says. ‘If you want to buy in a leisurely paced market and lock in to cheap mortgage rates, now is the time to do it.’

With fewer people buying and selling, rents have also bounced back, making it a good time to be a landlord. Mr Agace advises would-be buy-to-let investors to consider thriving cities with good yields, such as Bath and Reading, as well as central London.

In London, the mid-market is where the majority of transactions are taking place: buyers are looking to upsize from a flat to a house priced up to £950,000. ‘Flat prices are strong, thanks to recent wage increases, but house prices have come down,’ explains Mr Agace. In February, a flat in Parsons Green, marketed by Winkworth Fulham at £850,000, attracted a bidding war, eventually selling for £950,000. Bestbuy3small South London neighbourhoods such as Tooting, Kennington, Brockley and Vauxhall are popular locations for upsizers looking for space and period charm: an attractive Victorian house with a large garden a short distance from Kennington tube station (on the Northern line) is currently for sale for £895,000. ‘These kind of houses make fairly safe investments as, in the worst-case scenario, you could live in it forever,’ advises Mr Agace.

At the top end of the market, prices are still strong, but the atmosphere is more guarded, both in London and the countryside. Prices are firm for houses up to and above £2 million, but there have been fewer transactions, with many buyers waiting to discover if a ‘mansion tax’ will be introduced. European buyers in particular are holding off purchasing, partly because of the strengthening pound, partly because of political uncertainty. ‘Up until recently, London was relatively cheap for international buyers, but, now, they’re not rushing ahead to do deals,’ Mr Agace says. This has led to an over-supply of luxury flats in the capital, with certain developers forced to reduce prices to attract buyers.

The upshot of a calmer London market is that buyers are becoming less wedded to the capital and are, instead, basing their property search on schools or quality of life. ‘Until recently, prices in London have been going up so fast that no one has had the nerve to leave,’ Mr Agace explains. ‘It felt as if you’d be losing money if you left the market, but the financial incentive for staying in the capital has become less pronounced.’ These buyers are now cashing in on their London homes—the value of which has risen considerably over the past five years—and basing themselves in or near outlying cities such as Winchester and Canterbury with good schools and a better quality of life. ‘A small house in Shepherd’s Bush can translate to a five-bedroom house in the country with change,’ he notes.

London’s European homeowners are also seizing the opportunity to make the move back to Europe while the pound is still strong. ‘If you’re in your forties with young children, there doesn’t seem much point in waiting for prices to start rising in London,’ Mr Agace continues. British buyers have also started to set their sights on Europe once again, a market they’ve been absent from since the financial crisis. Winkworth is receiving enquiries for second homes in established destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal, where prices are still 20% lower than they were at the peak. ‘A stronger pound and less interesting London market is bringing British buyers back to Europe,’ Mr Agace says. Bestbuy2_smallIn south-west France, an attractive Quercy-noise pigeonnier with five bedrooms, pool and three acres, on the market for €580,000, is attracting a high level of interest. ‘If you’re beginning to earn more money, now is the time to make a lifestyle investment to enjoy with your family,’ Mr Agace urges.

CountryLifespecial15Any opportunities to make a shrewd property investment could be short-lived, however. Historically, the market picks up by about 10% in the quarter following the General Election, depending on how quickly a new government gets its act together. Research by Winkworth suggests that, in every election since 1997, the increase in properties sold in the three months after the election has exceeded what would be expected from the long-run average for a non-election year—in 2007, sales increased by 24.8% compared with the previous three months.

‘Experience tells us to expect a post-election bounce in sales and prices in 2015 and a busy second half of the year,’ Mr Agace says. ‘There’s no time like the present to invest in a recovering economy.’

This article was taken from the Winkworth Country Life special. To read more great articles like this, get the full edition here.  
If you're looking to buy, sell, rent or let then click here to book your appointment with one of our local experts.

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