The very unpredictable times in which we’ve been living post-2008 are becoming normalised and in 2012, it’s all about London - and I don’t mean the Olympics.
Because for us in Cambridge, we continue to enjoy the ripple effect of the London market which stands, in prime locations within select boroughs, in apparently splendid isolation from the main thrust of the market UK-wide.
This London effect is, increasingly influential in our local market, especially at the premium end.
It’s definitely a case of a two tier property market with best-in-class versus the rest – and that’s in residential sales and in lettings.
Nationally, a North-South divide has emerged throughout the year, with values in the prime southern markets showing increases by as much as 4 per cent in some of the hot spots such as Oxford and Cambridge – although the majority of this increase was evident during the early part of the year, followed by a far more subdued period experienced more recently.
Cambridge city remains buoyant with prices now exceeding the height of May 2007 for the most desirable properties. We have been selling more property over the £1 million mark in the city than ever before.
This Cambridge city trend reflects the experience of our central London offices who report that prices for prime property in their patches have risen by 10 per cent during the course of 2011.
The market in the Cambridgeshire villages remains patchy. Some of the villages to the south are flatlining in terms of price and the view is that the, historically, less popular villages in the middle and towards the northern end of the county might witness a fall in prices in the coming year.
The picture is much the same for residential lettings. The city has its hotspots near the River Cam and close to the railway station as well as the restricted amount of residential locations adjacent to the city’s historic core. There’s a steady flow of tenants but the further out from the city centre, the more correctly-priced the property needs to be to secure interest. Whereas,for lettings in the city, there is keener tenant competition.
Buyers and tenants are far more discerning at the premium end and it’s important for property owners to recognise this before they go to market.
London exiles are attracted to Cambridge due to its proximity, high quality environment and investment potential. But many will be considering Cambridge alongside cities such as Oxford or Bath which have similar prime properties as we have and offer an equivalent quality of life.
So in painting the property picture for those buying or selling in Cambridge in 2012, our advice is to set realistic expectations and be flexible to achieve the sale as needed.