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City bonuses and foreign cash injects competition into the UK property market

The latest predictions for the real estate market next year are optimistic with experts agreeing that although prices are likely to soften in the Spring, a shortage of supply means that the majority of good houses are selling under competition and gazumping is back.

The best properties in popular locations will do well, according to experts from The Buying Solution, the independent buying consultancy of property consultants Knight Frank.

‘Lack of supply and pent up demand has meant that we have seen competitive bidding on a number of properties towards the latter part of this year, and a return to gazumping in some cases,’ confirmed Ran Morgan, Partner and head of Central region.

‘For 2010, we anticipate a continued lack of supply and competition from buyers.

We have a number of potential clients who believe we have reached the bottom of the market and are keen to purchase in popular areas such as Oxford and the Cotswolds.

Most are UK buyers, including families looking in areas with good schooling, occasional second home owners and city buyers who anticipate bonuses,’ he added.

Bobby Hall, Partner and head of Southern region, has experienced a similar pattern with a number of competitive bidding situations, particularly where prices have been adjusted to reflect current market conditions.

‘For 2010, I believe that we will see more supply coming to the open market in spring throughout West Berkshire, Wiltshire, North Hampshire and Dorset, and that we are likely to see city bonus buying in the second quarter and onwards in the open market, prior to the election,’ he said.

In the Home Counties lack of supply is keeping prices stable, according to Andrew Giller, Partner and head of Home Counties.

‘I expect this to continue into the New Year, and whilst supply/demand is unbalanced, there is likely to be continued competition for the most sought-after houses, pushing prices above guide as we have seen in recent months,’ he said.

‘We have had a number of enquiries from those anticipating bonuses who want to move out of South West London down the traditionally popular A3/M3 and M40 corridors for schooling.

We also anticipate continued demand from international clients, particularly Russian and Middle Eastern buyers, who are very much back in the market place,’ he added.

There are also rumours of the first active Chinese buyer in the Home Counties with more than £10 million to spend.

High value country houses, estates and land remain popular with foreign buyers.

‘In my view, the top end of the country house market, that is £8 million plus, will continue to be short of supply in 2010, however I believe that there will be an increasing number of properties available privately, perhaps as much as 75% compared to 25% on-market, but vendors will want premium prices,’ said Mark Lawson, Partner and head of high value houses and landed estates.