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A GOOD SUMMER AND PROSPECTS FOR A BRIGHT AUTUMN

Well another summer is coming to an end with much activity within Stourbridge and its property markets.

The housing market continues to perform well with stock levels reaching some of the lowest in the last few years and an appetite for the right product at the right price with New Homes proving in hot demand – only after a few months of marketing we have successfully agreed sales on all of The Royal Glassworks in Brierley Hill a development of houses and apartments within the grade II listed former Brierley Crystal Works. Sales have been a mixture of both owner occupiers and buy to let purchases, showing the strong demand for good quality properties in the affordable range.

According to the recent summary of business conditions published by The Bank Of England, to which we are a contributor and participant housing transactions had picked up slightly over the past three months, but by less than many contacts had expected, reflecting a continued low level of properties available for sale. Price inflation had remained generally modest, aside from localised hot spots where bids could sometimes rise above asking prices. Activity had been relatively weak among the highest-value properties, leading to some price falls. Activity in the new build market was generally stronger than the secondary market, with builders reporting strong demand and improved planning conditions and land availability. Rental demand had remained strong, although investor sentiment towards the buy-to-let (BTL) sector had become more mixed following tax reforms announced in the Budget.

In the commercial property nationally market occupier demand continues to strengthen overall. That, combined with low levels of new development over recent years, has led to emerging shortages of good quality space, particularly in the office market. Some rents had risen as a result, but were yet to reach the levels required to stimulate speculative development outside prime locations. Take-up of industrial space had increased further, but there were fewer imbalances between demand and supply than in the office sector, as capacity had started to grow earlier. Demand for existing prime retail space had been strong and the secondary and tertiary retail market had also shown some signs of rising occupier interest, from a lower base. Investor demand had remained strong and had spread further outside London, with both UK and overseas institutional funds active. While bank funding had been generally available for property investment, average loan-to-value ratios offered by UK banks had remained below pre-crisis levels.

A shortage of offices and industrial units in Stourbridge are and North Worcestershire is putting upwards pressure on prices as demand for commercial property remains strong. Lack of available stock, particularly of well-priced freeholds properties, makes it the best time since the credit crunch for owner occupiers and landlords of offices and industrial accommodation to sell.

Statistically form the good quality stock of commercial property only some eight months’ supply available of freehold units remaining in our area.  This is the lowest level of availability since the recession.

We have a number of transactions underway at the moment on office freeholds involving SIPP and pension acquisitions making purchasing far more popular with this increasing availability of liquid funds, again for the right properties at the right purchase. This is supplemented by the continuing low interest rates and the increasing willingness of the banks to lend.

With the changing face of the market and availability of different types of buyers and investors it is critical to take the right advice before agreeing any sales or acquisitions, I would recommend you discuss your property issues with a qualified commercial Chartered Surveyor.

Following a short period of marketing be have successfully now sold the former Savoy Cinema in Lower High Street and Crown Lane in the centre of Stourbidge and now plans are being prepared for a major new mixed use development to take place, the site is adjacent to the Crown Centre and Tesco and is yet another exciting new opportunity for Stourbridge and adds to the list of other developments which have taken place like the new Hotel and extensions to the Colleges.

Also in Lower High Street we have commenced the marketing of Sandford House with land and car dealership to the rear. Sandford House an 18th Century former residence was the home of Mr Foster of the Foster and Rastrick Foundry , the birthplace of “The Stourbridge Lion” and is currently used as offices but has scope for conversion and development into other uses including leisure and residential.

So an exciting few months – who said summers used to be quiet – let’s hope the Autumn is even busier.

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