Cheltenham is becoming a haven for Londoners looking to relocate and enjoy a more leisurely lifestyle. Tom Hatcher, Director of Cheltenham estate agent, Charles Lear & Co., explains why.
The London property market has been receiving negative press over the past few months with renowned agencies such as Countrywide and Foxtons announcing that sales, earnings and profits are significantly down during the first half of 2017 when compared with the same period last year.
Earlier this month, Countrywide, the country’s largest agent, reported operating profits for the first six months of this year were £6.5m, dramatically lower than the same period last year where operating profits were £28.3m. Revenue for the agency was also down from £370.3m to £333m and sale transactions were down from 33,940 to 27,100. Foxtons also reported falling profits with the first half of 2016 resulting in £10.5m, compared to just £3.8m in 2017. Both agencies put the fall in profits and sales down to the “dreadful” market in London being impacted by the unprecedented economic and political uncertainty of recent months.
While historically London has led the way in terms of price trends and market activity, this time we think it’s different due to a shift in what buyers are looking for. Over recent months we have seen a significant increase in the volume of ‘Londoners’ moving to Cheltenham and the surrounding Cotswolds area. These former capital-dwellers seem to be looking for a quieter place to live with a more leisurely lifestyle and these requirements are underpinning the local market. The influx of buyers from outside the region from as far afield as China and Bermuda is far outweighing the number of locals moving out of the area. Over the past few months at Charles Lear & Co., we have noticed a marked increase in customers contacting us who are not from the local area but are looking for property in the region.
The increase in interest from overseas buyers appears to have been spurred on by the weak pound following the EU referendum and subsequent Brexit vote. The value of the pound is now encouraging overseas buyers and property investors who are looking to buy at a good value in the local area.
Whilst the wider economy faces its challenges, do not be misled by all that may be reported in the national press about falling house prices – the local market is strong and lacks new property to meet the demand of Cheltenham’s growing population and we see no evidence that we have or are about to see a drop in prices. Basic economics tells us that whilst demand is greater than supply, the value of our homes will increase, something which we are fortunate enough to have consistently witnessed since the recession.