Here’s what the property lawyers have to say…
Barry King – PPA Chairman and lawyer at Glanvilles LLP
Since March 2012 when I became Chairman of the Portsmouth Property Association, the property market has been somewhat confused. We appear to have had very busy times and also lean times, and there is no specific reason for it. I trust that I am not the cause!
We can all speculate with various plausible reasons as to why that may be. There is most unseasonable weather which we have all had to put up with, or that the Diamond Jubilee bank holidays made people think more about taking time off than buying and selling houses, or that they would rather watch the Euros (why? we lost on penalties again), then there was Wimbledon, and of course there are now the Olympics.
Whatever the reason, now is a good time to move house, as prices have remained pretty stable, and 90% mortgages are starting to become more available. Let’s face it we all have to have somewhere to live, so why not cheer up your local estate agents and PPA property lawyers and buy a house?!
John Blake – PPA Committee member and lawyer at Warner Goodman LLP
The end of the Stamp Duty holiday in March prompted activity in the market and led to matters completing in quick time, leading to fears that market activity might dip following the holiday end. Those fears seem largely to have been allayed and reasonable levels of activity has been seen. No return to prior levels of record activity have been seen or were anticipated and so perhaps the levels we have at present are perhaps the new “normal”.
Mortgages are available to those with a largish deposit, property prices are pretty stable and well presented, well situate, keenly priced properties are selling. No boom, no bust, maybe this is the way it should be?
Firms of Solicitors have had to adjust staffing levels to cope with the “crisis” in the Housing/Mortgage/Banking market and those in the PPA seem to have successfully ridden the storm and offer good service levels at competitive prices. We continue to struggle however competing against distant companies offering cheaper fees but a distinct lack of service, which reflects badly on the profession. Local firms working together with local Agents and Surveyors, together seeking solutions to problems makes perfect sense.
So what next?
Whilst summer holidays, the Euros, the Olympics, Wimbledon and my cousins David’s wedding may distract a few, so far levels of business are good. What we probably needed was Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France, and now on to a record number of gold medals at the Olympics and an Indian Summer to introduce a feel good factor.
Roger Sherliker – Head of Valuations at Hughes Ellard and PPA Committe Member also had the following summary of the first half of the year for the Portsmouth region for the commercial sector
After a glut of lettings at Lakeside, North Harbour during 2011, the pace of activity has slowed considerably. Lakeside remains the focus of activity for the top end of the market in Portsmouth though and the major deal during the first half of 2012 has been a letting of 3,000 sqft to Consumerable Solutions. Otherwise, lettings and sales in and around the City have been small suites and buildings to local firms. At Segensworth there has been more significant activity recently with two buildings totalling 55,000 sqft currently under offer.
Industrial and Logistics
The problem remains a lack of quality space, particularly to buy. Demand is surprisingly good despite continuing gloomy macro-economic news. A local high technology engineering firm have recently bought a 9,000 sqft unit at Voyager Park in Portsmouth. At Brunel Way Segensworth a 13,000 sqft factory has just been sold to an owner occupier.
This sector continues to throw out very mixed signals, location is very significant to performance. Whilst nationally these sectors are struggling and there is no doubt that trading conditions are tough, several local centres are performing well . A new small shopping parade is under construction at Lakeside and is fully pre let. Also at Lakeside, the new Porsche dealership is now open. Sports Direct are fitting out a new store in West Street, Fareham and construction of the new Whiteley shopping centre is moving ahead quickly. A new pub and restaurant will be built at the entrance to Cams Hall, fronting the harbour, details of the tenant have yet to be announced but a deal has been concluded. A new Costa Coffee unit has just been built at Locks Heath Shopping Centre and is trading at higher than expected levels and all units in the Centre are occupied or under offer. Gosport High Street and London Road, North End have failed with their recent bids to be included in Mary Portas’ initiative to revitalise shopping locations. News about the Northern Quarter development in Portsmouth remains sporadic but both the Council and developer say they remain committed to the scheme.