ESTATE agents in Huddersfield reported increased activity during 2010 – but differ in their views about prospects for the market in 2011.
James England, head of residential for Carter Jonas in Slaithwaite, said activity increased in 2010 – despite national figures showing a fall in house prices and declining buyer confidence.
He said the Slaithwaite office saw a “significant” increase in properties being listed and sold in 2010 against 2009.
Mr England said: “While the property market is not the same as it was some years ago, the right properties are still creating strong interest and there are buyers and vendors who understand the conditions and are keen to push transactions through.”
Last year, Carter Jonas’ Huddersfield team listed 60% more properties than in 2009 – with 30% finding buyers. Mr England said the agency expected this trend to continue into 2011.
“The residential property market in Yorkshire looks set for a positive start to the New Year, following a somewhat subdued last quarter of 2010,” he said.
“Whether these are green shoots of recovery, only time will tell.
“Stock levels will be key to the way the market performs in early 2011. I suspect supply will outstrip demand so a patient and realistic approach from sellers will be vital. Having said that, many are now well-tuned into the market and will listen to sound advice.
“If people are prepared to take a pragmatic and sensible outlook and approach, I am confident that the New Year will see an early resurgence in activity.”
Chris Jowett, of Jowett Chartered Surveyors, said: “In the early part of last year – before the general election – there were signs that the market was stabilising and confidence was beginning to return. There were no signs that house prices were rising, but on the positive side house prices were not falling.”
He said the market quietened between the election in May and the October spending review – the key selling months for the housing industry – as “fear of the unknown” sapped confidence.
But he said: “November and December have been very good months for us with a lot more surveys and valuation work in terms of sales and completions.
“House prices will remain stable, but I think it will only take some encouraging economic figures for the first quarter for people to feel more comfortable about entering the market.”
Raymond Butterworth, of Boultons, said: “Last year was better than we had anticipated and sales volumes finished 15 to 20% higher than we had expected.”
But he said almost all the gains were made in the first nine months of the year – when reductions in VAT and stamp duty provided a spur to the market and before the coalition government’s announcement of spending cuts.
Mr Butterworth said continued strict lending criteria meant it would remain difficult for first-time buyers to enter the market, adding: “We have to expect a tough time for the first quarter of the year.
“There are always people buying and selling houses, but it is going to be a difficult first three months.”