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The prime south west London property market has change dramatically from a year ago with more domestic buyers and homes taking longer to sell, new research suggests. In prime areas such as Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth and Chiswick, prices aren't dissimilar, but there are no longer shortages and the market is less volatile, according to a report from Stacks Property Search. ‘Domestic purchasers dominate whereas a year ago the market was dictated by investment buyers, with buy to live purchasers struggling to make an impact. Early in 2014, buyers would have to compete with numerous competitive bidders, and properties were achieving up to as much as 15% above asking price. Successful buyers were using cash and those who needed finance weren't getting a look in,’ said Sara Ransom. ‘The return of domestic buyers means that property is taking longer to sell. Surveyors and solicitors are required to undertake more due diligence, so where property was taking two or three weeks to exchange contracts a year ago, the average is now around three to four weeks,’ she explained. ‘While the market is more grounded, and prices are more stable, there is plenty of momentum, and there's little sign of anything slowing down for Easter or the election. Our expectation is that it will gear up post-election as we don't foresee any political scenario that might adversely affect the market,’ she added. Ransom also pointed out that one of the biggest hurdles for any buyer is now finance. ‘Buyers really need to be on the case well in advance of finding a property as the process is becoming more and more protracted. The difficulty is exacerbated because mortgage companies are reluctant to talk in 'principle' any longer,’ she said. ‘And there are some mortgage companies that are gaining a reputation for approving finance then pulling out further down the line. Another difficulty is that mortgage companies are insisting that borrowers use a solicitor that is on their approved panel, so you will need to check this before appointing a solicitor,’ she added. The firm also believes that buyers should also be aware that it's difficult to get more finance for improvements, so buying a property that needs renovating is tricky unless you have a substantial deposit. ‘My advice would be to seek out potential for future improvement rather than property that has an urgent need of refurbishment. Remarkably, there are good examples of property that offers this kind of promise. For instance, adding a loft conversion to the pretty cottages on the Shaftesbury Estate in Battersea, resulting in three bedrooms instead of two, can add around £100,000 to the value, while the cost of the work is about £50,000,’ said Ransom. ‘Take plenty of time to research and understand the market, and the individual pockets within areas. Prices can vary by as much as 10% to 15% street by street. And don't dismiss areas without doing some pavement explorations. London changes so quickly, and areas that would… Continue reading →
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