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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fewer people are moving house in Northampton

Now the dust has settled and the General Election seems a distant memory, we can get back to a more normal property market, or that is what the London based ‘Fleet Street’ journalists would lead you to believe.  I have been talking to lots of property professionals in Northampton; solicitors, conveyancers and one the best sources of info – the guy who puts the estate agent and letting boards up in Northampton and all of them told me they didn’t see any change over April in business, compared to any other month on the lead up to the Election itself.

I am now of the opinion that maybe in the upmarket areas of Mayfair and Chelsea, the market went into spasm with the prospect of a Labour/SNP pact with their Mansion Tax for properties over £2,000,000, but in little old Northampton and the surrounding villages, there has been only one property sold above £2,000,000 mark in the last 7 years.

In a nutshell, the General Election in Northampton didn’t really have any impact on people’s confidence to buy property. As I write this article, of 861 properties that have come on to the market in Northampton  since the 2nd of April, 261 of them have a buyer and are sold subject to contract, that’s nearly one in three (30.31% to be precise).
I think that things are starting to change in the way people in Northampton (in fact the whole of the country as I talk to other agents around the UK) buy and sell property. Back in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, the norm was to buy a terraced house as soon as you left home and do it up.  Meanwhile, property prices had gone up, so you traded up to a 2 bed semi, then a 3 bed semi and repeated to the process, until you found yourself in a large 4 bed detached house with a large mortgage.

Looking into this a little deeper, like I have said in previous articles Northampton people’s attitude to homeownership itself has changed over the last ten years. The pressure for youngsters to buy has gone, as renting, not buying, is considered the norm for 20 something’s. This isn’t just a Northampton thing, but, a national thing, as I have noticed that people buy property by trading up (or down) because they need to, not because ‘it’s what people do’. This does mean there are a lot less properties on the market compared to the last decade.

A by-product of less people moving is less people selling their property.  My research shows there are a lot fewer properties each month selling in Northampton compared to the last decade. For example, in February 2015, only 240 properties were sold in Northampton. Compare this to February 2002, when 423 properties sold and in the same month in 2003, 421 properties.  I repeated the exercise on different sets of years, (comparing the same month to allow for seasonal variations) and the results were identical if not greater. So what does this all mean?  Demand for Northampton property isn’t flying away, but with fewer properties for sale, it means property prices are proving reasonably stable too. Stable, consistent and steady growth of property values in Northampton, year on year, without the massive peaks and troughs we saw in the late 1980’s and mid/late2000’s might just be the thing that the Northampton property market needs in the long term.

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