Bursting into early action?

The 2016 market is certainly likely to be spurred into early action by those looking for a second home, a rental investment – or even to buy before they have sold their own – as the new additional 3% SDLT rate will apply to transactions completing after 6th April (after which this additional cost is likely to be factored in to the value a buyer will pay).

For those seeking a dream country house in 2016 success will, even more than in recent years, hinge on having direct and personal contact with key selling agents, rather than an ability to surf the web – as we predict that sellers of prime country houses will become even more nervous of openly committing their properties to a market synonymous with uncertainty of outcome.

Twelve short months ago, Country Life predicted that 2015 was going to be ‘a funny old year’ – as the forthcoming election, recent changes in SDLT and continuing uncertainty in the market had already dented sales for properties valued at more than £2m.

Plus ca change?  We think not – even Country Life’s 2016 forecast is headed ‘Things can only get better!’. Supply (or, rather, the lack of it) will undoubtedly be the driver of the prime country markets in 2016 – particularly as the London markets are waking up to the fact that price increases can no longer be relied upon and owners start to move out to the country again.

More than ever, though, the performance of the <£2m market will reflect the reality of valuation. These buyers have not only factored into their budgets the exponential increase of private school fees, relatively static salary levels and the significant increase in SDLT – but, more than ever, the proximity of interest rate increases.  We also detect a real shift in demand from the next generation of 30-somethings – from an ambition to own acres to the amenity of living in pleasant towns (with immediate access to places to meet and eat).

Regrettably, the pundits and research departments continue to blare out a message of substantial price inflation. To paraphrase John McEnroe; we would say ‘You cannot be serious”!