With just four months of the new year gone, there is already much to feel confident about when it comes to the local property market, as a delighted DARREN LAWSON, Managing Director, Mansbridge Balment Plymouth , explains.
“Spring is just about in the air, but there’s even more of a distinct spring in the step of first time buyers in Plymouth, just as we had predicted here at Mansbridge Balment.
I couldn’t be more delighted either. It wasn’t that long ago that us estate agents were scratching our heads trying fathom out just how those at the foot of the property ladder were ever going to get a foot on it!
But the Government came to their rescue, firstly with the launch of the Help to Buy scheme, as cautious mortgage providers got tough with their lending criteria, and then by stinging Buy to Let investors and second home owners with sharp Stamp Duty increases.
As the landlords and property investment moguls took a back seat, the first time buyers put themselves firmly in the driving seat and have been beating a path to our door to take advantage of their stronger buying power in the marketplace.
In the first quarter of this year we have seen a significant increase in the number of first timers looking to take the property plunge, which has given us a very welcome business boost – and kept the local market strong and vibrant.
Our sales figures are already ahead of where they were in the same period in 2016 and while we still have a shortage of those properties in the lower price ranges, we have seen an increase in both mid and higher priced houses, which has helped to keep business brisk.
You could be forgiven for thinking that might hamper our first timers, but what has been particularly noticeable is that many are coming to market with sizeable deposits. The good old ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ may well be the reason for that, particularly as many lenders are offering mortgage products that make parent investment a more viable proposition.
Plenty to be optimistic about then, even with that surprise General Election just around the corner. There’s no need to get downbeat about that either as experience tells us that while there may be a slowdown in the few days before and after polling day, the impact is minimal and the market is soon back on track.
What has also been particularly refreshing in the last few months is discovering just how important having a high street presence is to our customers. I have always been very vocal in what I regard as the significant weaknesses of online only estate agents.”
Technology clearly has a significant role to play in our industry, but not at the expense of forging professional relationships and building trust with our customers, which can only be achieved face to face.
Many of our clients, particularly those in the older generation, have confidence in an agent with offices, an agent with a proven heritage and one that can call on the expertise of highly experienced, professional staff with a strong, local knowledge.
Online agents aren’t really in a position to give that complete customer service experience, let alone the kind of added value we also offer, such as a commitment to a cast iron money back guarantee and seven day a week opening.
In my opinion, that will always be their Achilles heel.”