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Market Overview

2013 saw an unexpectedly slow start to the year, though our record breaking summer months certain...

2013 saw an unexpectedly slow start to the year, though our record breaking summer months certainly pushed us passed our annual forecast. We now expect a slowdown in the market in the coming weeks which is normal for the festive period as moving home falls down the priority list for our prospective tenants. In January the market usually comes back to life with a bang with many cynics suggesting this is due to the unfortunate number of relationship breakdowns, though I suspect it is in reality more likely to be a re-release of market energy stored over the Christmas lull.

Currently the market is still strong and there remains a consistent demand from professionals wanting to move out of London and choosing Hitchin in particular as a place to set up home. The strong transport links, market town attributes, and excellent schools all combine to make Hitchin a very attractive area to live and are all strong motivators for the current market conditions. We have also seen strong demand from professionals moving to the area to begin gainful employment with large companies Astrium and MBDA being some of the biggest contributors to this influx .

Generally rents have risen steadily in line with inflation, and there continues to be extremely strong demand for village properties, character cottages and three bedroom homes between £800 - £1000 per calendar month. Whilst every effort is made to increase rents, our advice is always to keep them at a realistic level to minimise void periods which can prove costly, especially as landlords now need to factor in council tax payments on vacant properties.

Perhaps the most interesting of recent developments is seen in Hitchin’s housing market, where a sharp and significant increase in property values appears to have arisen due to the strong demand from London buyers. There appears to be a current trend towards pricing homes in a very positive fashion to capitalise on this strong interest in the hope that the exorbitant prices of London homes and a dwindling stock of decent homes available in Hitchin will combine to provide a favourable circumstance for vendors. The evidence of the success of this is apparent with many homes achieving extremely quick sales at prices which would have been considered optimistic only months ago. Of course there is always a downside somewhere and it appears as though the disadvantage to this is that we are finding it more and more difficult to find buy to let properties in Hitchin with a sensible yield.

So what will happen over the next couple of years? It is my belief that house prices will continue to rise, fuelled by a consistent scarcity of properties available to satisfy buyer demand. I am however, confident that there will continue to be strong demand from tenants across the board and that the rental market will continue to perform to its recent standards. My only harboured concern is that the greatly anticipated interest rate rise is likely to leave many home owners struggling to pay their mortgages and though there is much talk of the end of the recession it is food for thought that both Barratts and Blockbusters have recently re-entered administration, a poignant reminder to us all that this is still no time for complacency.

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