THINGS ARE LOOKING UP ...
Confidence in the housing market is growing, with sales predicted to rise further as spring approaches.
In February, it was reported that house sales had continued to increase, challenging the widely- held belief that the nation remains in a gloomy state of limbo.
Signs that confidence in the market is picking up were reported by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which said that an overall balance of 15 per cent more surveyors said that sales had risen, rather than fallen, in January, continuing a general trend of sales increases seen for four consecutive months.
House prices have remained broadly stable.
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Mike Quick, director of Quick & Clarke estate agents, which has six offices covering a vast proportion of East Yorkshire, said he was pleased to paint a positive picture of the property market locally.
"We have a vast selection of properties across the board, it's a great residential area and it is not overpopulated, with sea to one side and a large river to the south," said Mr Quick.
"The prices here are possibly more expensive than a lot of people anticipate, simply because of the desirable areas of Beverley and particularly west Hull and villages. Nevertheless, there is a good choice and in view of the last four years or so, it is absolutely paramount for owners to be realistic on asking prices.
"We have seen good, positive sales for those people who are prepared to take that sort of advice.
"Where others are taking a long time to sell, without a doubt, price is normally one of the main contributory factors."
Mr Quick's timely comments follow a recent sobering report on "property blackspots" by housing investment and shared equity provider, Castle Trust.
In-depth analysis of housing transactions, based on Land Registry data, identified the Yorkshire and Humber region as one of only two areas in England and Wales where the number of homes sold at a loss outstripped those sold for profit.
Since 2007 – when property prices peaked – the number of homes sold for less than the purchase price was highest in Yorkshire and Humber, where 48.2 per cent of properties sold for a loss, with 48 per cent going for a profit and 3.8 per cent breaking even.
In the North, the second-worst blackspot, 48 per cent of homes sold for a loss, while 47.8 per cent sold for a profit.
Both the probability of making a loss and the size of the average deficit has increased significantly since the economic downturn, statistics have shown.
The most common reason for homeowners selling their home at a loss is to purchase a new home at a decent price, with 18 per cent stating this factor.
Divorce or separation was cited by 14 per cent of loss-makers, the need to upscale by 13 per cent and relocating for work by 12 per cent.
Mike Quick said: "I believe it is very important for all clients to be realistic and sensible on finalising an offer.
"Of course there are so many people making low offers at the moment, but we are pleased to see a significant improvement in the market with a lot more viewings and a lot more sales and we are optimistic for this year."
Paul Staniford, of Staniford estate agents, whose branches serve Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said: "More sales would be achieved by vendors and purchasers alike if sellers adopted a more realistic approach to asking prices.
"The property market in East Yorkshire has shown, since the beginning of the year, an increased level of confidence. This has been fuelled by a weekly increasing availability of mortgage products, a number of new products coming to the market at 95 per cent loan to value with no penalties attached.
"The property market relies on the availability of mortgage funding, literally as a life blood or fuel. The more mortgage money that is released and made available to buyers and first-time buyers alike, the more the market will start to transact with sales and purchasers alike – thus the more confidence will be derived by potential sellers of properties to place their properties on the market, if they have a desire to move."
On a cautionary note, Mr Staniford said there appeared to be a number of agents who were over-valuing property simply to secure instructions.
"It only goes to underline or illustrate the properties that are competitively priced and accurately valued, will achieve early sales from cash proceedable purchasers," he said.
"The relationship between asking price and valuation should be a close one, the closer the asking price is to the valuation, the more likely you are to achieve an early sale.
"At Stanifords we employ a professional approach to valuations in line with the likely building society valuation for the property to make sure that our asking prices are accurate and realistic and are pleased to report that already in 2013, a number of properties that have come to the market since the beginning of the year, have already had sales agreed on them.
"This bodes well for the property market for this year and if all other estate agents would adopt a similar approach, then the market would come away from its two-tier structure – one-tier being properties that are on the market for too much money that aren't selling and the second tier being the new instructions that come on to the market that are correctly priced and are selling."
Adrian Harrison, of Dee Atkinson & Harrison, which covers Hull and East Yorkshire, said: "I am pleased to be able to report that of the houses I have been involved with that have sold in February, five sold within two weeks of going on the market – three for in excess of the asking price and the other two dropping by a maximum 3.5 per cent from asking price.
"This comes about by knowing your market, educating the vendors on realistic pricing and then providing effective marketing."
RICS said that despite the signs of improvement in the market, demand from would-be buyers had dipped slightly since the start of the new year. There was also a slight fall in the number of homes coming on the market.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: "Price falls across the UK have gradually stemmed in recent months and it is interesting to see that the amount of completed transactions are on the rise, as confidence returns to the marketplace.
"While it is still very early days to talk about a comprehensive market recovery, activity levels are still encouraging and there is some optimism out there that things could continue to improve."
The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported an uplift in lending to first-time buyers and said it expects sales generally to pick up this year.