Lancashire’s housing market is the most positive it’s been for five years, according to the area’s estate agents and surveyors.
A new report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests that the number of house sales is set to improve over the next quarter, with local experts saying this down to the combination of low interest rates, increased availability of mortgages and ‘realistic’ house prices.
However, they warned that house prices in the region are not expected to increase for the foreseeable future, as troubles in the wider economy continue to exert an influence.
Kevin Allitt, managing director of Oystons Estate Agents, said: “The last three months of last year were surprisingly busy.
“December, a month which is usually quite, was busy right up till Christmas, as it was between Christmas and New Year. Since the start of this year, things have been going mad and the girls in the Preston office are being run off their feet.
“I think the reason for it is because the price of houses is so affordable and some of the confidence has come back. There is a lot of buy-to-let demand and getting mortgages has got easier. I wouldn’t say that we’re seeing house prices increase, but it’s a possibility. We’re very positive about the market right now, for the first time in five years.”
Lawrence Rooney, owner of Lawrency Rooney Estate Agents in Longton, Preston, said: “Last December was the busiest I have seen in five years. There has been a lot of properties going at the lower end of the market, and it’s moving because it’s cheap.
“For example, we’ve recently had four sales sub £100,000, which is low for an area like Longton. It’s distressed housing and it’s the investors who are coming in, because first time buyers are still having trouble getting deposits together. I can’t see house prices going up if I’m honest. They’re not falling, they’re staying stable. I’m quite lucky where I am in Longton, because there is always a demand to live here, but if I were in somewhere like Leyland or Burnley, I’d be worried.”
John Waddingham is a surveyor at Preston-based agency Garside Waddingham, and covers the whole of Lancashire and South Cumbria.
He said: “We are extremely busy. Vendors have to be realistic in the price of their house, but if they are, then the properties are attracting interest.
“The market is very much finding it’s level. There is optimism, because interest rates are low and there is no sign of them increasing, but I don’t see prices starting to creep up this year because people are still being cautious because of the wider economic problems still out there.”
The latest Halifax House Price Index shows the average house price for homes Lancashire is £134,196 against a North West average £151,687.