'Over-valuers' blamed for moribund market

Nov 18, 2019
The latest data release shows a continuing grim overall picture for activity in the Chiswick property market with just 86 sales reported in the third quarter of the year.
As reported on local news website ChiswickW4.com, the situation is even bleaker for flats which normally make up the majority of sales in the area but the number of transactions in this kind of home was just 37 in the three months, close to an historic low.
Sales volumes are down across London but seem to be particularly badly hit in Chiswick. Factors such as political and economic uncertainty are partly to blame but the finger is also being pointed at the systematic over-valuation of property by some agents. This, their rivals say, has made the market particularly difficult in W4 as over-optimistic price targets have meant that sellers are reluctant to accept reasonable offers.
Christian Harper at Harper Finn: "A high percentage of agents are still overvaluing property to simply win instructions. This is providing sellers with false expectations which simply aren’t materialising. Yes, it's nice to win instructions however now is the time to provide accurate advice. Never, in my close to thirty years of Chiswick experience have I seen more need for expert advice to achieve a sale.
"Marketing property has become generic in terms of finding buyers, close to 100% of buyers search on Rightmove, Zoopla and ChiswickW4.com so it isn't about attracting the buyers. It's all about what you say to reassure them that now is the right time to commit to a purchase despite the general doom and gloom."
The problem seems to be most acute for smaller properties. Over half the sales in Chiswick during the third quarter were for over a million and larger family houses continue to turn over at the same kind of rate they did in more favourable times for the market. Three homes in Bedford Park within a short walk of each other were sold during the period for over £3 million including a house on Woodstock Road that changed hands for £3,440,000.
The Land Registry numbers seem to indicate a strong market with the average price in Chiswick rising by 26.6% over the last year to £1,104,819. However, this rise is almost entirely driven by the type of property that is being sold rather than a general rise in prices. The sharp decline in the number of flats changing hands alongside the more sustained activity for family houses is creating the illusion of rising values.
Christian Harper: "Whilst the latest figures come as no surprise the most alarming figure to me is the 57.6% downturn in factual volumes of transactions in the past five years. Why has this happened? I believe that it is a combination of factors. Sellers are not upsizing or making future purchases and are simply not prepared to accept current market values. Instead they are choosing to retain property until the grass is greener. Any remaining potential sellers are continuing to receive poor advice from estate agents."
He concludes, "Glossy brochures, shiny suits and high street shops just aren’t going to help. Experience and professionalism are the only ingredients that truly matter in a difficult market."
The Land Registry House Price Index for August 2019 shows that overall prices were down by 1.4% in London which made it the worst performing area in the UK. For the country as a whole the average price rose by 1.3% to £234,853.
Read the full article for detailed analysis of Chiswick property prices, including comment from Paul Cooney, Director at  Horton and Garton and James Waight, Associate Director, at John D Wood.
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