Country house market in UK above £2 million seeing recovery

The UK’s country house market has seen a marked recovery in the £2 million plus sector in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the previous two quarters, according to the latest research.

The analysis report from Strutt & Parker also shows that sales levels are now not far off where they were in the fourth quarter of 2014, suggesting that the market uncertainty from the general election has perhaps filtered out.
Strutt & Parker’s UK outlook for the remainder of 2015 looks positive and it predicts that there will be sufficient growth in the final quarter of the year to hit the forecast of 5.0% for 2015.

Growth over the next few years is also forecast as positive with 5% per annum anticipated. There are, however, uncertainties for the UK market and the upcoming European Union referendum and potential interest rate rises adds further pressures. Despite this, sensibly priced and good quality properties, both regionally and in prime central London, will continue to do well, the firm believes.
‘There remains some uncertainty over the near term outlook for the national housing market. The gradual strengthening in growth within the UK economy is still being met by some caution against risk and interest rates are expected to begin rising early to mid 2016,’ said Stephanie McMahon, head of research at Strutt & Parker.

‘Once rates do begin to rise they may have a dampening effect on the national housing market, most specifically in the mainstream markets where the majority of purchases are dependent upon mortgages,’ she explained.

‘However, two factors should cushion this impact. First, interest rate rises are likely to be gradual, estimated to reach circa 2% to 2.5% over the next five years. Secondly, the majority, 75% to 80%, f recent mortgages have been at fixed rates. Both of these factors should mean that any adjustments in purchasers’ behaviour should also be gradual,’ she added.

Her colleague, James Mackenzie, head of the country house department at Strutt & Parker, also agrees that the prime country house market is showing signs of improvement with a lack of high value property on the market and growth in demand over the quarter.

‘However, buyers are incredibly price sensitive as the cost of stamp duty is still a major hurdle. We are hopeful for a normalised autumn and winter,’ he added.

Guy Robinson, head of regional residential agency at Strutt & Parker, pointed out that activity in the summer and early autumn months has shown encouraging signs of an improving market.

‘Last quarter, there was strong demand from buyers which has translated into agreed sales. The number of new instructions has remained static, consistent with the previous period,’ he said.