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ACTIVITY IN JANUARY

In January I commented on the genuine shortage of instructions across all areas of the property market. So it is pleasing to see that the Bank of England’s Summary of business conditions, January 2016 Update, concurs. This should not be a surprise as Walton and Hipkiss are proud to be consulted by The Bank of England and are contributors to the report which demonstrates that there are slim pickings for all agents at the moment. The bank comments on the residential market saying, “Housing market activity was reported to remain subdued relative to pre-crisis levels, constrained by a shortage of properties for sale”. This is of course a comment on business done as opposed to the potential business available. I am pleased to report that once the back to work week was out of the way, after the New Year, enquiry levels, through calls or visits to the office, and internet enquiries both for properties to buy and let have remained strong and that correctly priced properties have been flying out. Correct pricing might sound like a familiar drum being beaten, maybe even an irritating familiarity, but with the strong demand relative to supply I can see no reason why property should be on the market for long periods, and I am suggesting that home owners with property that has been on the market for some months really should be considering either, the advice from their agent or if that advice is not forthcoming, speaking, and listening, to another agent, I know that our residential department would be delighted to discuss the marketing of your home, and the opportunity to demonstrate what they do best! A word to the wise, if your agent is still marketing your home using last summer’s exterior photographs, you are definitely with the wrong agent, nothing shouts, nobody loves me nobody cares, louder than an out of date photo! The issue with an unsold property may not be price alone. The correct marketing of a home at this time of year is vitally important as once sold within the next few weeks, the seller will be in prime position, with a sale proceeding, for the pick of the crop when the Spring influx of new instructions start to appear, traditionally! Correct pricing was demonstrated in the retail markets at Christmas with many shops starting their sales early with resultant strong levels of sales so the volume of sales was up on last year but value of sales had hardly changed, basically retailers had to sharpen their pencils, work harder, for similar return. This would seem to indicate the fact that there is still an element of caution to spending.

Happily the Bank of England summary also reflects what we have seen in the commercial property market. The bank reports that both, “occupier demand had risen” and that “Investor demand was reported to be strong overall”. This occupier interest has been demonstrated, at Walton and Hipkiss, with four viewings on the first day of marketing of a High Street, Stourbridge retail and offices letting opportunity, admittedly this property offers a great deal of flexibility and an imposing retail frontage but this is a very encouraging response from a wide variety of potential end users. Investor demand during January has also been strong, with expressions of interest in a wide variety of property from small industrial units to building land for sale. This demand for investment opportunities is as a result of continuing low levels of interest which a source this week said was, “Likely to be the case at least until the summer of 2018”. The Bank of England also comments that, “Credit availability had remained above normal for larger companies, with strong competition to lend. Access to finance for small companies was reported to be around normal”. Hopefully after strong instruction levels during January that have included a wide variety of investment and letting opportunities whether they be a block of flats with a telephone mast on top, a 16th Century house with inglenook fire place and a wealth of exposed beams converted to letting rooms in Belbroughton, an industrial unit in Wolverhampton, an Italian restaurant in Kidderminster, an Edwardian Villa in Handsworth Wood divided into letting apartments, or a retail and office opportunity on Stourbridge High Street we are well placed to meet investment and occupier enquiries, however diverse. In January the diversity of property that we deal with at Walton and Hipkiss Commercial and Land has been demonstrated with the successful letting of a car wash in Tipton, the sales of an office and a car park on Lower High Street, Stourbridge, and the sale subject to contract of land in Hagley amongst others. Never a dull day here!

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