Saturday, 24 August 2019

Henley market gives cause for optimism

HENLEY’S housing market is continuing to perform well despite the continuing political uncertainty caused by Brexit, according to industry experts.

A research event hosted by Savills estate agency at Phyllis Court Club on Wednesday last week heard that demand for homes in Henley and the surrounding areas remains strong.

Titled “Home Truths”, the event sought to outline current property trends and look ahead to the rest of 2019 and beyond.

Speakers included Savills Henley’s head of office and head of residential Stephen Christie-Miller; residential research analyst Frances Clacy; associate director Charlie Chavasse, who specialises in properties within the town centre; and associate Tom Hyde, from the lettings team, who discussed opportunities in the rental market.

Guests were told that according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Brexit uncertainty, a lack of housing stock, affordability, increased taxation and tougher lending criteria were the biggest concerns facing the market.

But Stephen Christie-Miller said that while this had created challenging market conditions, the level of recent activity had been strong. “It’s certainly been an interesting year to date,” he said. “We were fairly polarised at the beginning because of the uncertainty around Brexit.

“But as soon as the October 31 deadline was announced we saw a real surge of activity — there was a definite sense that people were tired of waiting and they just wanted to get on with things.

“We sold eight properties in April, 12 in May and we have sold five so far in June — with plenty more in the pipeline.”

The event also heard from residential research analyst Frances Clacy, who outlined recent house price growth and looked ahead at future trends. Referencing data from the Land Registry, she said house prices in South Oxfordshire had increased by 34.8 per cent since the 2007-08 housing peak but dropped by 0.8 per cent in the past year.

However, Henley and the surrounding areas — including Sonning Common, Hambleden and Harpsden — continued to perform particularly well, with an annual average transaction value of over £900,000.

Elsewhere, the neighbouring authority of Wycombe has seen house prices grow by 38.7 per cent since 2007-08 but fall 2.2 per cent in the last year, while Reading has seen house prices increase by 37.2 per cent over the longer period and fall by 2.1 per cent more recently.

As a whole, the South East of England has seen house prices increase by 35 per cent since the housing market peak of 2007-08, with growth slowing to 0.6 per cent in the last year.

In London, prices have increased by 58 per cent over the longer period but dropped by 2.1 per cent in the last year.

For prime properties — those valued within the top five per cent of the market — prices have increased by 6.2 per cent over the last five years in Henley and the surrounding area, compared to a fall of 11.6 per cent in London.

In Henley itself, properties under £1.5million had increased in price by 20.4 per cent in the last five years, and properties over £1.5million by 6.2 per cent.

However, Frances said the area still represented value for money when compared to the capital, with the average price per square foot for prime properties sitting at £560 in Henley, compared to £1,200 per square foot in London.

Looking ahead, she concluded: “While we expect house prices to remain relatively subdued in the short term as Brexit negotiations continue, the long-term picture looks healthier and we anticipate an uptick in demand once the political uncertainty clears, with mainstream house prices in the South East forecast to rise by 9.3 per cent over the next five years — more than double that of London.”

Guests also heard from Tom Hyde, part of the lettings team at Savills Henley, who said that despite changes in legislation and taxation, the rental market remained strong.

“We are seeing an increase in ‘try before you buy’ tenants who are thinking of moving to the area and demand is consistently high,” he said.

“However stock levels are low — so there’s plenty of opportunity. Average rental yields have increased from £2,125 per calendar month in 2018 to £2,442pcm this year.”

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