South West RICS spokesman predicts a positive first quarter for property in 2013
IF the current level of increased activity is anything to go by, then we should be predicting positively for the first quarter of 2013 for Plymouth and its surrounding area. Indeed the RICS December 2012 Housing Market Survey reported nationally that there had been a notable increase in buyer interest in recent months, and there were signs that this was translating into higher transactions, albeit from historically low levels.
Surveyors were turning increasingly confident that activity will pick up further. Indeed the three months' price expectations net balance had moved into positive territory for the first time since May 2010.
As far as the South West was concerned 37% more surveyors predicted transactions to rise and then to fall over the next quarter. Interestingly this contrasted with the Nationwide Building Society Report early this month where Plymouth had seen the greatest reduction in price levels in the South of England, reflecting the continual hesitancy of the city's economy.
However, the city and its surrounding area has a great deal to offer and was reported in The Guardian this month as possibly being one of the best places in Britain to live, focusing specifically on the suburb of Stoke, and the myriad of opportunities available in and around the city. If the growth in restaurants is anything to go by, as a measure of disposable income, the flourishing institutions of River Cottage Canteen and Deli, Secco Lounge, Prezzo, and the forthcoming Wagamama, are encouraging. These add to the established bespoke restaurants of Tanners, Piermasters, and others, Chloe's, and the myriad of quayside cafes and restaurants around Sutton Harbour.
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As a place to live the quality of life offered includes the coastline and scenery of Plymouth Sound, host to the America's Cup, transatlantic races and many more. For many it is Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor that attract, but there is the enticing countryside of the South Hams to one side and the unspoilt South East Cornwall to the other, all with lovely villages. One of these, of course, is Sparkwell, where the latest Professional Masterchef winner is to be found at the Treby Arms.
Plymouth's Life Centre provides enhanced sporting facilities while there are many excellent schools and three flourishing grammar schools. On the independent front Plymouth College draws many gifted students, two of whom won Olympic medals in 2012.
Analysing who has been purchasing within the city in recent years, there appear to be a growing number of who are drawn to the variety of properties around the waterfront, and around the incredibly interesting estuaries of the Plym, Tamar and Tavy, and the adjacent coastline. Many of these buyers may previously have been dubious about this as a viable area to live, but have decided to settle here. Such properties as Monckswood, near Wembury, which was sold by Stags in 2012, was a good example, having been acquired by a professional couple from the South East taking up appointments in Plymouth and selling for a figure of just in excess of £1 million.
South East Cornwall has always provided some enticing options, with its prices that are regularly 30% lower than in corresponding areas of South Devon. An example here is Sandhill at Calstock, which sold in 2012 through Stags at £750,000.
The north side of the city, with its incredible scenery rising up to Dartmoor, is easily commutable, and included sales last year such as Valley View at Horrabridge at £650,000.
Properties being launched, or re-launched, which should attract real interest to a variety of different types of buyers include Maristow Cottage at Bere Ferrers, with a quick train link into the centre of Plymouth and yet in one of the quietest and most beautiful settings on the Tavy Estuary; at £450,000 it should sell well.
The yachtsmen's haven of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo will no doubt continue to attract some of the highest values – and buyers, frequently from London and the South East. Here 21 Noss Mayo, a deceptively large waterside cottage, is available at £695,000.
To me, having been in practice in and around the city since the early 1970s, this is looking like the potential of an emerging new era.