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Toby Lambert, Head of Residential Development & New Homes for Hertfordshire at Bidwells Toby Lambert, Head of Residential Development & New Homes for Hertfordshire at Bidwells
02 March 2015

Housing market in Hertfordshire remains "steady" Bidwells reports

The UK housing market is looking strong and positive going into 2015, according to the latest Residential Commentary Book published by property consultants Bidwells.

The report was unveiled at a special seminar held in St Albans on Tuesday 24 February – and guests included leading house builders from Hertfordshire.

In Hertfordshire the market continues to remain stable with steady increases in the house prices with a 7.9% increase across all homes and stronger 10.2% increase for new homes compared to a 5.6% increase in country homes.

Across the Bidwells region during 2014, we have seen a rapid price escalation in key markets and increasing signs of development interest in a more healthy economy environment and more conducive planning context.

Toby Lambert, Head of Residential Development & New Homes for Hertfordshire at Bidwells, said: "The picture in Hertfordshire has remained resilient and positive.

"All markets have seen the New Homes sector to continue to outperform the country house sector. The next 12 months remains a period of significant interest with government initiatives and continued low interest rates are expected to continue to have a positive impact on the market.

"The growth in New Homes has seen some exciting developments taking fruition in Hertfordshire, at the moment demand is still high and as a result supply/demand is still way beyond the curve. But with ground-breaking schemes such as Wilshere Park near Welwyn taking shape we are seeing average values of £450 per sq. ft. which is fantastic and a 12% increase on figures two years ago.

"With the population of the district projected to grow by 19% over the period of 2011-2031 strong on-going demand for residential property is assured and new developments are likely to be successful."

Overall, whilst rates of growth differed across the country and local market conditions created varying levels of supply and demand, development activity, investments and prices all increased just about everywhere in 2014. The Bidwells region was of course no exception.

Despite the forth-coming May Election and the temporary diversion this will inevitably provide, the UK economy appears robust and positive from a housing market perspective.

The report considers recent trends, how the cycle is evolving and what will be the key factors which shape the sector in 2015.

Help to Buy, Stamp Duty reforms, planning policy revisions and revised mortgage procedures have all had a marked impact on the market.

The data reveals that price escalation, mortgage lending, planning approvals and housing did dip in the last quarter of 2014, following a frenetic early to mid-year period.

Pricing elasticity and a more exacting mortgage market, albeit with a record low borrowing rate, started to emerge and the market steadied. This suggests a more measured market growth for 2015 which is likely to bring single digit price increases in most markets. Bidwells predicts a 5% average house price growth in the Eastern Region this year.

With house price growth easing and mortgage volumes stabilising, market conditions in 2015 are likely to be more sustainable throughout the Bidwells region. This in turn will create a more stable decision-making environment for buyers, sellers, developers and funders alike.

The context for new development will remain encouraging and the report examines the current housing pipeline and its anticipated direction and impact.

In Hemel Hempstead, Bidwells assisted R G Carter and Endurance Estates throughout the tender process in connection with a multi-use redevelopment in the heart of Hemel Hempstead for Dacorum Borough Council. Bidwells has been instructed to provide advice on the planning, marketing and disposal of the site. Bidwells St Albans office will undertake a marketing campaign in the summer of 2015 for the first element of this site which comprises of a new residential quarter of 207 town centre flats.

Key findings in the report:

· Above trend economic growth over the next three-four years will support high levels of activity in the housing sector – this will be underscored by a moderate price appreciation in most markets

· The forthcoming General Election will probably slow activity in the middle of the year, but the positive dynamics underpinning the sector are unlikely to alter significantly

· Most markets remain under-supplied – but further increases in development volumes are anticipated

· The 2015 forecast for UK GDP is 2.4%

· House price growth for the Eastern region over the five years to the end of 2014 was 23%

· DCLG data shows 112,370 housing completions in the year June 2014 in England; this represents only a 4.1% increase on 2012/13 and is less than half of the estimated annual house requirement of around 240,000 new homes.

· House Price Index – the second half of the year saw price growth begin to slow – over a year as a whole prices grew by 8.3% in the Bidwells region (with two thirds of the increase in the first six months of the year)

· In the region new homes prices have risen by 10.6% over 2014 compared to increases in the country house sector, where prices are up by 6%

· In Cambridgeshire, in the final months of the year, market values in the large country house and townhouse market were down 1.5% - reflecting the recent Stamp Duty changes

· The regional house price average for homes in Norfolk was up by 4.9%

· In Cambridgeshire it was 9.8%

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