Huddersfield estate agents have reported a brisk start to the new year – despite a continued shortage of houses coming onto the market.
Chris Jowett, of Jowett Chartered Surveyors on Market Street, reported a busy start to the year with surveys, valuations, lettings and sales.
While Alex McNeil, of Bramleys in St George’s Square, said: “We have had lots of people through the door making offers and viewing properties. Sales levels have been up, so that’s encouraging.”
The comments follow the latest residential market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which said Yorkshire’s housing market began the year positively with a rise in activity.
There was an increase in the number of estate agents reporting a rise in buyer enquiries and sales in January compared with the previous month.
However, the number of homes coming on to the market remained flat in January. The survey said estate agents saw no signs of an upturn in new instructions over the next 12 months.
The RICS said the lack of housing stock on the market was a long-standing problem and was affecting prices in the region.
Some 36% of respondents said house prices rose during January against 17% in December while 53% expect prices to rise further over the coming 12 months.
Mr McNeil sad: “A lot of agents have been surprised. They were, perhaps, not expecting this level of interest in January. We have had lots of people through the door making offers, viewing properties and sales levels have been up, so that’s encouraging.
“The weather has helped. We have not had a week lost due to snow, which can happen in January.
“And we seem to be getting the return of a very rare species – the first-time buyers – who are now putting their heads above the parapet and have managed to find the 10% or 15% needed for a deposit.”
He added: “There is no shortage of buyers, but as the stock agents have gets sold there’s not enough new stock coming onto the market to replace it.
“The new-build sector does seem to have a lot of new sites on the go and I think they will increase output this year which might provide the stimulus to get second-hand stock moving.”
But Mr McNeil added a note of caution, saying: “Buyers are more savvy now on price. Valuations have to be accurate because if you start asking inflated prices buyers will ignore it. People have access to data now – they know what house prices are down the road and around the corner.”
He said while a lot of people were still renting, the idea of wanting to own your own home was still there.
Mr Jowett added: “January can be a slow month, but we have had a few nice instructions where we have achieved sales.”
“These are houses we have priced sensibly,” he said. “We put them on the market last July and we have sold 12 new detached houses in the region of £400,000 to £450,000 to buyers who are not dependent on selling.”
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest RICS results point to housing transactions remaining pretty subdued over the coming months despite some more positive comments from contributors to the survey.
"Lack of inventory on agents’ books continues to provide a major challenge with the number of valuations being undertaken not suggestive of a pick-up in new supply anytime soon.”