Choppy water prevails in South London

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THE WORD with Marc Wiehe, Director Winkworth Streatham, considers the current difficult conditions for selling and letting.

The news from the coal face of estate agency is that 2018 has so far been one of the most difficult markets to work in and does not show any signs of letting up any time soon. The confusion and mis-matched expectations of buyers and sellers has been tricky to unpick. The sales market is continuing to limp along with a very low level of transactions as it has been hit by a succession of external factors from Stamp Duty changes, low expectations of a satisfactory resolution to Brexit and now the prospect of increased interest rates.

It does seems that vendors are finally realising that all is not well and are hopefully no longer convinced by the ever higher pricing model proposed by some inexperienced agents who then lock down a long contract and then promptly work their hardest to reverse the price they just quoted as if some shock has just happened since the ink dried…

Those who are readjusting their expectations from the outset of the process are the ones who are transacting. There are plenty of good buyers who are currently active in this market and sellers will need to work hard to present their properties in the best viewing condition and still be prepared to have a serious conversation when offers are presented. “Shabby chic” was a feature of the hot market in the nineties and noughties – it does not cut the mustard any more. The younger buyers who are looking for a first home are raised on a diet of Instagram perfection and are much more likely to offer on something in excellent condition rather than contemplate a project unless they have a lot of imagination and deep pockets (they generally don’t!). Family house buyers will often take more of a view as they are focused on factors such as schools and larger gardens, but they too will heavily resist the so-so presentation offered at top dollar which was a feature of the booming market of years gone by.

In the lettings market there is a fast draining pool of rental properties available and an increased supply of applicants looking particularly for good-value, one and two bedroom flats. Landlords that are keeping their nerve in the face of tougher tax restrictions will be benefitting from buoyant rental prices and short void periods throughout the rest of the year.

Streatham and Brixton are now very much in the sights of the family rental market, too. as these areas have done a lot to address the lack of facilities of the past. Blessed with several large parks, good and improving schools and upgraded leisure centres combined with a shift in attitudes and relocation of businesses and employment south of the river will ensure continued growth in values.

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