Here in Ludlow, we are lucky to have seen robust growth in the prices from 2008, right through the pandemic and into 2020, with a minimal drop off in sold prices from the height of the pandemic. Shropshire and the three counties have benefitted from an influx of city dwellers seeking new horizons, more “bang for their buck”, and extra outdoor space. The pace of life here offers room for an escape from buzz: the South Shropshire Hills, the Golden Valley, Offa’s Dyke and the Severn Valley, foodie delights, the steam train, castles, historic buildings and beautiful market towns bursting with independent businesses.
Many properties in the county and Ludlow are unique, and many reach the market only once a generation. Much of the housing stock is character property listed or historic. The variety and quality of the housing also insulate us from the vagaries of the market: unique or unusual properties, desirable locations, top-quality finishes, views and gardens will always attract buyers and gain premium prices.
We put our property questions to Blocsphere’s Cindy Walker.
If you are thinking of selling in 2023, what can you expect?
I believe that it’s going to be a challenging environment: the cost of living might still have a few surprises up its sleeve, and inflation may stabilise by March, but we are going to be living with its legacy for years to come, and standard variable mortgage rate for December 2022 climbed to 6.3% – not too high form a historical point of view, but a shock to anyone who bought or re-mortgaged after 2008.
The average sold price for a property in Ludlow for 2022 was just under £300,000, with the cost of the average property reaching over £270,000. Prices are predicted to fall slightly – possibly 8% over the next 12 months, but this follows solid growth, which exceeds the possible drop. As agents, we are aware that the mortgage market has been challenging. Mortgage advisors have described 2022 as worse than the credit crunch in 2007-2008, with mortgages being offered and then withdrawn, rates rising almost daily, and borrowers being shocked by their new payments.
As agents, what can we do to help?
Blocsphere Sales and Lettings are new to Ludlow, giving me a new perspective. Having worked in property sales, invested in property, and been both a landlord and a tenant of residential and commercial units, I have witnessed the inevitable ups and downs. Going forward, agents will have to work harder to set reasonable expectations for both sellers and purchasers and help vendors show and market their properties to their absolute best, bringing to the fore the most desirable features. Our marketing must reach beyond the local area, and we must share our local insights and knowledge.
We will need to focus on the quality of service: great communication, fast response to enquiries, honest feedback and dynamic decision-making will help to match the right property with the right buyers. We must get to know our vendors and their properties; personal service will be the key. Agents will need to reduce rates to offer flexibility to sellers and free up valuable cash to spend on other costs such as conveying and removals.
Vendors can do their bit by being reasonable in their expectations and timescales, getting into a “market-ready” mindset, and being flexible with viewing times. The more you communicate with your agent, the more we can help. We are lucky to live in this desirable area, with a range of hugely experienced and professional agents in town, but I think there is always room for improvement.
What if your property has been on the market for a while?
There are more options than just reducing the asking price, although this is a valuable and reasonable option. New marketing, new photos, broader advertising, better presentation and a few little changes can make a difference. If you want to try a new agent, they can offer a fresh perspective, revived energy and a positive plan. Agents may have to provide joint arrangements so that more than one agent can market the same property, which increases incentives but doesn’t generally cost the vendor more. A range of auction options, or “best and final” arrangements, can move your sale forward. Buyers are out there, and they don’t want to put their lives on hold, so we must all grasp the opportunities we have and make the best decisions for our plans.