Wind water, rain and pestilence. Roofs blown off; trees falling on to cars, roads and houses; Shore Road regularly closed to traffic, as the waves pounded and then flooded over the harbour wall. But Sandbanks / BH13 and BH14 have survived another Winter’s Tale and are now beginning to dust off the storm shutters in preparation for a different sort of onslaught …from tourists and developers alike.
There is a fresh air of confidence about the place (As You Like It !) – even some of the new developments, often disappointing in architectural style and quality of build, have been sold and the developers are again making their presence felt in the market buying more plots. (note: one or two do genuinely shine through.) Sales volumes (the total value of property sold – at prices greater than £200,000 in BH13 and BH14 only) in both Quarters 3 and 4 2013 were nearly 50% ahead of the same figures recorded for 2012. Better still, while activity is spread across the board, it is concentrated in the broad, influential £200,000 – sub-£1 million market. The second half of last year saw sales above £2 million up from £27m to £29m (from 8 in 2012 to 11 units in 2013) and those between £1m and £2m went up by nearly 20% from £55m to £65m (from 26 units in 2012 to 37 units last year). So, the lower than average percentage increases in those top-end markets must point to there having been an even more significant rise in the more “mortgage-sensitive” market beneath £1 million.
It really is a much more vibrant market, with the return of the “domino effect” throughout the area, a feature of a healthy market – as one property sells, another local buyer fills the void – the Midsummer Nights’ Dream.
Of course, while the market as a whole still has its fair share of international and out-of-area buyers, second home owners and others, the characteristic interest from of London buyers – often prevalent at this time of year – has been somewhat tempered so far by the lack of enthusiasm to venture out and (King) Lear – because of the recent spate of foul weather. However, that trend is now correcting itself, the sun is shining again and our buyers register is growing consistently – there is strong, evident demand for family homes in the £600,000 to £1.5 million segment, as well as at the top end … and an acute shortage of stock priced for sale.
Indeed, the main issue for sellers at this juncture is the shortage of saleable stock; exacerbated, as usual, by the local property agents creating Much Ado About Nothing – into the delusion of unjustifiably high price expectations – and then fail to materialise.
We see vendors being manipulated into additional, unwarranted fee extortion, or being cajoled into accepting offers from buyers whose own property sale is decidedly rocky, if not suspect. Often, there is no real prospect of a genuine sale.
Roll on the regulation of estate agents which successive governments have promised but so far failed to deliver.
This is a market in which the cautious and wise will prosper …and the foolhardy will not – the possibility of interest rate rises is an awful spectre, especially given the high levels of debt and gearing locally. Over-pricing and the consequent delay to achieving a genuine sale could prove disastrous. Some clouds still hover ominously – the election in May 2015; UKIP – Impact on the Tory vote ? Will Clegg align the Lib Dems with Miliband? Mansion Tax? Is the recovery stable and consistent?
There is a good market in BH13; and it is active. Properties are selling – provided pricing is sensible. Wise sellers will heed the message and curb their greed. Caveat emptor – the buyers’ motto. Ne’er has there been better advice for sellers too. Make the wrong choice of agent and it’ll be a case of Love’s Labours Lost !
This article appears in full in the Spring 2014 edition of “Pines and Chines”, the magazine of the Branksome Park, Canford Cliffs and District Residents Association.