Summer and Autumn Sold Rush For House Sales

sold board outside property

Will 2018 end well for house sales?

During the first six months of 2018 the level of house sales across the UK were running at a fairly poor level, but now the second half of 2018 is bouncing back with house sales on the up again.

Property sale agreed in Fleet by McCarthy Holden
A quick sale was recently agreed on this £1.85m. guided property in the Blue Triangle Fleet

When we say house sales are on the up, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices.

The market in residential sales remains very price sensitive, which is why discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this so are active in the market now.

Property sold in Odiham by McCarthy Holden
This cottage in Odiham was snapped up and exchanged when guided £850,000

A turning point this Summer and Autumn

Summer and Autumn trading results on house sales are showing high levels of properties going through to exchange of contracts and new sales being agreed quickly if the price and marketing combination is right.

Take this property below, which had offers within ten days of going to the market with professional video marketing and an eye catching price.

House sales exchanges have been increasing with examples across the price ranges, with the exception of the still soft £2.5 plus market which will no doubt catch up in due course.

There have been encouraging sales just under £2.0m. such as the example below.

Property sold in Finchampstead by McCarthy Holden
Sold (exchanged) just under £2.0m. in Finchampstead, Berkshire

Tragedy comedy or soft landing

We are of course reminded of the phrase All’s well that ends well, which is a title from a play by William Shakespeare, thought not to be neatly classified as tragedy or comedy. Lets hope for the residential house market its neither and 2018 ends well for house sales.

If you are looking ahead to a house sale in 2019, why not ask for a free no obligation valuation for McCarthy Holden.

Commercial Freehold Property Preview

Commercial Investment Opportunity

A Grade II listed ground floor commercial freehold premises, in a High Street position in the thriving Hampshire village of Hartley Wintney.

The guide price is £400,000 for the freehold interest.

Commercial premises for sale
High Street Position

The units amount to around 950 sq. ft. of internal space and there is the added benefit of an outside courtyard space.

More details available soon – telephone 01252 842100 to view early.

floor plan of commercial premises

Early viewing is recommended and we have keys for ease of access. Please note the above plan is for illustrative purposes only and it is not drawn to scale and does not form part of a contract or warranty whatsoever.

Hartley Wintney Village
Hartley Wintney is a thriving Hampshire village

Brexit Uncertainty Brings Uplift In Top End House Rentals

Uncertainty around Brexit driving buyers to rent instead of buy

There is an unexpected short term boost in the higher end of the residential rental market going on right now, because of austere house purchase stamp duty levels and Brexit uncertainty.

A number of high end house buyers are deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using the stamp duty funds they would have allocate on a property purchase around £2.0m. or more, to pay for the property rental instead of going into the Government coffers by way of stamp duty (about £154,000 at £2.0m. and £274,000 at £3.0m.).

The property above has been placed on the rental market today at £6,000 p.c.m.. This is an example of a luxury house in Berkshire which will attract interest from tenants wishing to live near say Wellington College, Reading and Wokingham yet have easy access to London. The video production and photography by will no doubt enable a quick uptake in tenant enquiries.

The medium term outlook for top end rentals is good, and for house sales over £2.0m. there could be good new post Brexit because the level of hot buyers in rental looking to buy will be at a good level.

The market insight is that the first half of 2018 saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, right now, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this and are taking care of business now.

Another example of positive movement in the rental sector £5,000 to £8,000 p.c.m. is the property shown below, which was recently snapped up by a tenant on a guide of £7,995 p.c.m. So, if you are a landlord looking for an agent to manage and rent a luxury property then go to

High end property rentals boost for estate agent McCarthy Holden

Bank of England Warns of No-Deal Brexit House Price Crash

Property Hampshire Warning Bank of England
Governor of the Bank of England Dr Mark Carney leaving Downing Street, London yesterday, following a Cabinet meeting.

Was this a forecast?

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned ministers that house prices could crash by more than a third in the event of a disorderly, no-deal Brexit, according to a report by Gavin Cordon, Press Association Whitehall Editor.

Yesterday, Mark Carney briefed Theresa May and senior ministers on the Bank’s planning for a “cliff edge” break with the EU at a special Cabinet meeting on Thursday to review the Government’s no-deal preparations.

It is understood he warned house prices could fall by up to 35% over three years in a worst case scenario, as sterling plummeted and the Bank was forced to push up interest rates.

“What could be lost in the alarmist headline is that Carney wasn’t making a forecast,” says John Holden Chairman of McCarthy Holden.

We’ve been here before

“And hang on, haven’t we been here before?” Holden continues.

Back in May 2016, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned that following a leave vote house prices would drop by 18%. Around the same time US President Barack Obama said Britain would go to the “back of the queue” for trade deals with the US if it votes to leave the European Union.

“So again today we read headlines which could damage confidence further in both the wider economy and the UK residential property market.” continues Holden.

Understanding the context

Fortunately, some leading economists have stepped up and put Mr Carney’s comments in a framework of context.

Take BBC’s economic editor Kamal Ahmed, who stated today that it appears that the Governor wasn’t providing the Cabinet with a forecast of what the Bank believes would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He was briefing the Cabinet on what preparations the Bank was making if that does happen, including last November’s stress test.

It was not a forecast.

It was an apocalyptic test where the Bank deliberately sets the parameters beyond what might reasonably be expected to occur. The major banks all passed the test, giving reassurance that the financial system can cope with whatever happens next year.

The Governor believes that a ‘no-deal’ scenario would be bad for the economy. But not as bad as the headlines today which are based on a doomsday scenario that is not actually forecast to happen.

The market insight from John Holden is  that “On the shop floor at McCarthy Holden the first half of 2018 saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, since July positivity was in the wings because house buyers began surfacing again with intent.”

“Right now, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.”

“Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this and are taking care of business now” concludes Holden.

John Holden - Chairman McCarthy Holden

Below are samples of fine homes that have SOLD (exchanged or completed) during 2018

Renewed Optimism Among Retailers

Some Good News On The Retail Front

Retail sales were slightly above average, up 4%, for the time of year in February, while average selling prices growth slowed compared with the previous quarter, when it had risen to its highest since 1991.

Grocers reported strong sales volumes growth in the year to February, up 65%, while “robust” growth was also reported in internet and mail order goods, hardware and DIY. However this was partly offset by falling sales in department stores, down 45%, clothing, down 77%, furniture and carpets, and footwear and leather.

A third of retailers (32%) reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago in February while 24% said they were down, but 34% expect them to pick up again next month while just 13% think they will fall, according to the latest CBI Quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.

While sales growth slowed for the third month in a row in the year to February, while employment in the sector continued to fall for the fifth quarter in a row, albeit at the slowest pace in a year. However, for the first time since November 2016, retailers said they expect their business situation to improve over the next three months.

Their investment intentions for the year ahead also strengthened to hit their highest point since August 2015. The CBI said retail momentum was “modest” for most of 2017, mainly reflecting the weakness in household income.

Anna Leach, head of economic intelligence at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “While trading conditions remain tough, it’s encouraging to see retailers’ investment intentions improving to their highest since August 2015, in addition to signs of renewed business optimism for the first time in more than a year.

“With labour-intensive businesses such as retailers finding it increasingly difficult to find workers, agreeing a jobs-first transition between the EU and the UK, in writing, by the end of March would provide some much-needed certainty.”


From a property perspective this is more good news following the 2017 uplift in manufacturing exports, and this means employment and confidence is on the up despite the oft-voiced doom and gloom we hear from some about the impact of Brexit.

Can We Guess What’s In Store For 2018?

Can We Guess What’s In Store For 2018?

2017 Productivity Up, but what about 2018?

Around this time last year, our normal year-end and new year review were written and we got a few things right, especially in relation to the mainstream housing market is in surprisingly good health at the end of 2016 and seemingly ready to absorb any uncertainty around the Brexit process. We predicted that house prices in 2017 would remain static or show a small increase, with the exception of London where we predicted a fall.

The recent Nationwide house prices report confirmed that House prices ended 2017 2.6% higher than when the year started, with London identified as the UK’s weakest-performing region for the first time since 2004, according to an index.

Our top tip last year was to encourage buyers looking over £2.0m, to jump off the fence because in this sector it could well be the time for buyers to take a risk before prices move upwards after years of poor performance.

Nothing much happened until the third quarter of 2017, and then sales were being created between £1.75m and £2.5m. including this stunning house in Henley on Thames which went under offer on a guide offers in excess of £2.250m., with multiple offers received during a short marketing spell between October and December 2017.

House sale agreed in Henley on ThamesA factor influencing this outcome was the presenter lead video tour which provided added results during the marketing.

McCarthy Holden’s trading was up for 2017 so the year ahead is being approached with optimism, despite any potential uncertainty around Brexit.

Across the UK, the average price was £211,156 in December, marking a 0.6% month-on-month increase as well as the 2.6% annual uplift, Nationwide Building Society said. The annual rise was the slowest for any calendar year since 2012. It compares with a 4.5% annual increase in December 2016.

For the first year since 2008, prices in northern England and the Midlands combined grew at a faster rate than in southern England, Nationwide said, with a 3.6% year-on-year increase compared with 1.6%. In London, prices were down 0.5% annually, taking the average to £470,922.

The strongest-performing region was the West Midlands, with prices up by 5.2% annually, followed by the South West at 4.8%.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said 2017 “saw the beginnings of a shift”, as rates of price growth in the South moderated towards those in the rest of the country.

Nationwide calculated that would-be buyers face spending around eight years saving for a deposit, rising to nine years in the South East and nearly 10 years in London.

Mr Gardner said subdued economic activity and an ongoing squeeze on household budgets is likely to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and price growth in 2018. He said: “Overall, we expect house prices to record a marginal gain of around 1% in 2018.

2018 Steady House Sales and Squeezed Landlords

At McCarthy Holden, our belief is that for 2018 there will be a similar growth in house prices to that of 2017 and similar levels of transaction numbers, so overall a steady and relatively healthy house sales market. Based on quarter three 2017 market activity, the top end (£2.0m. plus) market may see a modest recovery in transactions but little improvement in price levels.

For the rental sector, the Government is likely to introduce the banning of tenant fees. Landlords will have to absorb these costs because they relate to important safeguarding measures, with the likely outcome of higher rent levels and the tenant ending up picking the cost up ultimately. The demand for private sector rental will continue to increase, but the squeeze on Landlord margins will also.

Wish List

Our big wish for 2018 is that Government stops interfering with and manipulating the market with stamp duty tweaks to either suppress prices or increase availability because their measures in recent years have resulted in higher prices for first-time buyers and a subdued top end market.

The mid to top end property sectors are long overdue a stamp duty reform since the disastrous hike in the stamp levy on larger properties by George Osborne, because ever since Osborne significantly increased house purchase stamp duty on more expensive properties, especially over £2.0m., this sector stagnated, tax revenue fell and buyers motivations to move hit rock bottom, which in turn has impacted directly on availability of housing stock. It’s obvious that if there is a healthy top end with motivated sellers and buyer this will feed into the mid to lower end sectors because buyers will have the motivation to move and the supply side of property will increase. Politically We do of course recognise that the Government is weak, thus lacking the resolve to stand up to the inevitable Jeremy Corbyn stance to a reduction in top end stamp duty, however the prospect of a looking after the rich accusation by Corbyn should be faced down in the greater interest of achieving a supply side and mobility gain with the prospect of increased tax revenue.

The bigger issue on housing is however for Government to urgently start engaging with building council houses, an infrastructure decision that would boost jobs and help those most in need of housing help. This is not socialism, but instead, just good common sense designed to enhance the economy and provide much needed additional housing stock outside of the private sector. However, with Brexit absorbing so much time and resources there is little hope of a meaningful focus on housing, unfortunately.

Overall, entering 2018 with an economy in good shape and a housing market that has escaped all of the negatives about Brexit (remember Mr Osborne’s warning of and immediate 18% house price reduction) and a manufacturing base that is on the up are all good reasons to be positive about a healthy property market in the year ahead.

Start your 2018 property search or valuation update here.

Here are average house prices across the UK and the annual change, according to Nationwide Building Society:

West Midlands, £182,861, 5.2%
South West, £239,576, 4.8%
East Midlands, £177,180, 4.6%
North West, £157,488, 4%
Wales, £150,885, 3.3%

Outer South East (includes Central Bedfordshire, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Mid Hampshire, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, North Essex, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire), £277,030, 3.1%

Scotland, £146,578, 2.6%
East Anglia, £223,613, 2.3%
Northern Ireland, £131,989, 2%
Yorkshire and Humberside, £151,747, 1.8%

Outer Metropolitan (includes Central Kent, East, West and North Surrey, Hertfordshire, Reading, Slough, South Buckinghamshire and Chilterns and Windsor and Maidenhead), £361,598, 1.2%

North East, £124,535, 0.2%
London, £470,922, minus 0.5%