House prices in Huddersfield are soaring with homes selling within days of going on the market – some way above the asking price.
One estate agent described what was happening as a “perfect storm” while another spoke of a “frenzy” in the market. A Huddersfield conveyancing lawyer said he’s never been as busy in 20 years.
According to property website Zoopla the average price of a property in Huddersfield is currently £187,508 – a rise of 11.86% on the same time 12 months ago.
A number of factors have come together in the local housing market, driving prices skyward.
According to property experts these factors include:
- The home-office dilemma: As more people work from home on a permanent or more regular basis families have realised they need more space, privacy and a dedicated office;
- New post-pandemic priorities: With fewer people office-based or needing to commute some buyers are looking to move out of urban areas in search of a more rural outlook with a better quality of life;
- A move nearer family and friends; People have missed seeing loved ones during the pandemic and want to live closer;
- Extension of Stamp Duty Holiday: No stamp duty has been paid on properties selling for up to £500,000 since last July. That had been due to end in March but it was extended to June 30 with a staggered return to previous rates through to the end of September;
- Government-backed 95% mortgages: This scheme has helped first-time buyers in particular get onto the property ladder with just a 5% deposit;
- Continuing historically-low interest rates: Mortgages have never been so affordable and some lenders have eased the level of deposit needed generally to around 10% from around 15% last autumn;
- Families have more cash to spend or a bigger savings pot for a deposit: The Bank of England predicts unemployment will not be as high as feared and those who have worked through the pandemic – or even those on reduced income through furlough – have found they have spent much less on commuting, going out and entertainment, holidays and hair, beauty and personal care;
- Buy-to-let landlords are cashing in on sky-high prices by selling off properties to bank profits;
- London property investors are selling up in the capital and touring Yorkshire snapping up homes which they see as a “safer bet” as firms shut offices in the city and home-working becomes the new normal.
Paul Keighley, of Huddersfield-based Bramleys, said they had been “incredibly busy” and a number of factors had created a “mini boom.”
“Lots of people are wanting good properties and there is a shortage of good quality properties coming onto the market,” he said. “There’s a greater demand than supply.
“We are seeing an element of lockdown fever with people realising the properties they are in are no longer suitable for a variety of reasons.
“Also people haven’t been able to go on holiday so they have extra cash swilling about in their pockets. Even people who have been furloughed have saved a lot of money.
“Many of my staff say they are better off. One estimated she had saved £600-£800 on not going out or having her hair done or nails and beauty treatment.”
Mr Keighley warned sellers not to get carried away and said “realistically priced” properties were selling within a couple of weeks.
“We have sold some within 24 hours,” he added. “And some have gone even before they come onto the market.”
Adam Braithwaite, who covers Huddersfield and Halifax for online estate agency Strike, formerly Housesimple, said he had seen a “bit of a frenzy” in the local market.
“Historically it would take six months to sell but now it’s taking a matter of weeks or even days. People want well-presented ready-to-move-into properties as near to showhomes as possible.
“These kind of properties are selling within 48 hours and often above the asking price. That seems to be a big trend. We’ve seen houses sell at £20,000 above the asking price. People want hassle-free and don’t want to be having to roll up their sleeves.”
Mr Braithwaite said there was plenty of confidence in the industry that the market would remain strong.
“I don’t see any imminent danger signs to slow things up,” he said. “The banks have also eased up a bit on the lending criteria. Last September or October you needed a 15% deposit as a minimum but since December or January that’s come down to 10%.
“The Government’s help to buy scheme with 5% deposits is also a boost so I’m pretty confident prices will remain steady.”
Martin Mellor, who has the EweMove franchise for Lindley and the Colne Valley, said a combination of factors were driving the market creating a “perfect storm.”
He added: “It’s a bit crazy out there. There’s a lack of housing stock, there’s 24% more buyers than sellers and it’s the age old economic principle of supply and demand which drives up prices.
“Last week we had a three-bedroom semi which we listed on the Friday night. We had 20 enquiries by Saturday and people were even making offers not having seen it. Personally I would never take an offer from someone who hasn’t viewed a property but that’s the kind of desperation we are seeing.”
Mr Mellor said three-bedroomed semis with gardens were most in demand and he warned buyers they must have finance in place and be ready to move otherwise they had no chance of securing a purchase.
He said there was lots of money in the economy and people were prepared to spend. “Billions go into the holiday industry every year but no one has been able to get away so people have that money available to spend. What does a family holiday cost? £8,000?
“Last year everyone was buying hottubs and garden furniture. This year it’s extensions or moving house.”
Lee Gaddes, managing director at Huddersfield-based Gaddes Noble Property Lawyers, said he had never been as busy in 20 years.
He said there was more money around as people hadn’t been spending. People had more cash for a deposit and others were investing in a buy-to-let or a holiday let.
“Last year the housing market was closed for seven weeks and then we had a period where searches were taking eight weeks because local authority staff were working from home. Also, we couldn’t get valuers out.
“But now those third parties are back up to speed and that gives us more of a chance,” he said.
It’s not clear where the market goes from here. Mr Mellor said: “Bubbles always burst. It’s just whether they go bang or fizzle out.”
Some commentators say the end of the stamp duty holiday and the ending of furlough on September 30 could cause prices to fall a couple of percentage points in 2022 while others predict a 5% dip next year as unemployment rises post-furlough.
Others are more bullish and believe values will hold up in 2022, buoyed by a robust economic recovery in the second half of 2021.