New year brings new housing hope - but don't expect a steal!

Kitchen 7

Local developer Lockley Homes have seen promising signs for the housing market in 2024, but remain wary of calling it a bounce back.

“The housing activity in 2021 and most of 2022 was best described as ‘frenzied’, and clearly came as a result of pent up, post-Covid demand allied to continuing cheap mortgages available at that time. We didn’t expect it to last but couldn’t have foreseen the catastrophe that was ‘Truss/Kwartang-gate’ ” says Karl Lockley, managing director of Lockley Homes, the luxury house builder best known for its exclusive developments in the Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Cotswold areas.

"2023 was far more circumspect of course, and the dramatically increased cost of mortgages made the idea of house moving impossible for many folk which stalled many of the large sites developed by the major house builders”.

“We clearly aren’t seeking to compete with those guys but it was scary times for them given their scale. We had a good 2023 purely because of the small number of units that we develop each year and the target audience”.

"One of our developments in the Cotswolds sold virtually off plan, but all 7 purchasers were mortgage free, showing the clear divide in the market. 2024 has followed in a similar vein thus far with our site for 6 homes at Inkberrow in Worcestershire, already 50% sold despite us not yet having laid any bricks !”

"Over recent years the market has seen a distinct move away from a desire for ‘do-er uppers’, given the difficulty in finding good quality and reliable tradesmen required to carry out the required work and the associated rise in refurbishment costs which are subject to VAT. This means the demand for new houses has grown and those with cash are in an excellent position, although the traditional hope that those with cash can make 'cheeky offers' are rather fruitless, as new house stock is low so developers generally aren’t needing to discount”.

“Activity in the housing market is slower" according to Mr Lockley, "and that is partly due to the remaining concerns around debt that higher mortgage rates have brought, but also because agreed transactions are taking longer”.

"The blockage in what might be described as 'the day to day market' is two-fold. Those who want to buy a new house but have their own to sell and this often comes with vendors simply asking too much for their existing house and secondly, the age old problem of the housing chain" which according to Mr Lockley, is now being exacerbated by legal delays as solicitors still haven’t fully returned to office working.

"The process of buying and selling a house now takes longer than it did prior to Covid - all other links in the chain that were causing delays such as mortgage providers, surveyors and legal searches are all back on track but many solicitors are holding onto the idea of working from home and it undoubtedly results in a slower and poorer service for clients. We always interrogate any chains very thoroughly and won’t agree a deal with anybody either caught up in too long a chain or where solicitors in the chain aren’t able to fully commit to the instruction”.

Lockley Homes are currently on site in Inkberrow, Fernhill Heath and have recently completed a development in Henley in Arden and Mr Lockley remains confident in the property market:

“There are always people looking to move house, whatever the economic conditions, and we will continue to focus our attention on providing small, exclusive sites in sought after locations built to an extremely high standard."