Property review: ‘no reality TV star has been elected across the Atlantic’

David Westgate

Business Leader Magazine gets a review of the 2017 South West property market from David Westgate, the CEO of Andrews Property Group. 

Well, it’s certainly been impacted by fewer external national and international occurrences than last year – there’s been no Brexit vote and no reality TV star has been elected on the other side of the Atlantic for starters.

We did, however, in the early part of the year see the publication of the Government’s Housing White Paper, the triggering of Article 50 and then, in something of a curve ball move, another General Election.

The good news for the property market is, however, that these external factors have done little to knock it too far off kilter.

If anything, 2017 has been a year more defined by the natural cycles that the market moves through and we’ve found ourselves coming to the end of the last market period which started in 2009, and entering a new market cycle.

Slower market 

This has meant that the market has slowed to an extent, but with the overall national economy performing well, this hasn’t had the impact that we’ve experienced in the past.

Here in the South West, in fact, the property market has performed positively.  Our forecasts suggest that prices will have risen by a really quite respectable average of 15.7% in Bath, whilst in Bristol, average price increases stand at 12.1%.

In Bath, semi-detached properties have proved to be particularly popular with price increases of up to a staggering 40%!  Flats have been the best buy in Bristol, however, and have enjoyed price increases in excess of 15%.

Interestingly, at the other end of the property value spectrum, it’s detached homes that have performed least well across Bath, although even here they’ve enjoyed price growth in the region of 12.1%.  However, in Bristol, it’s terrace properties where price increases have been lowest although at 8.6%, it’s hardly bad news for owners of these homes.

There’s no denying, however, that overall transaction levels have fallen.  In Bath, they’re now almost 20% lower than they were a year ago, whilst in Bristol they’ve dropped by slightly less at 14%.

We attribute this, largely, to landlords reconsidering their investment strategies following Stamp Duty changes but anticipate they’ll be drawn back in in 2018 given the strong capital growth that property investment boasts.

Interest rates 

Whilst interest rates recently saw their first increase in a decade, this was simply what the market needed, and we don’t expect that they’ll move too much further away from their historic low.

Even if they did, it would simply indicate a continued strengthening of the wider economy which should be welcomed.

The biggest story of 2018 is likely to be Brexit – yawn!

The reality is that the twists and turns of the negotiation process will impact the financial markets but it’s our feeling that the housing market will have the most uneventful reaction to this and, in fact, that from spring onwards we’ll see the market pick up once more.