Outlook for 2023 – Devon and West Somerset Residential Property

The property market here was noticeably quiet in January, compared to the frantic activity that we have seen in 2021 and 2022. We hope that this signals a return to more normal conditions for buyers and that we will see less sales concluding with Best & Final Offers, where the successful bidder has to pay way over the guide price.

Having said that the recent relentless West Country rain has thankfully given way to crisp frosty mornings and the sun is shining. It seems that the market is waking up just as the first snowdrops and daffodils begin to appear. Agents are out and about busily valuing for potential clients, and this bodes well for a much-needed new supply of quality properties.
There will always be a steady stream of people looking to move to this part of the West Country. Those of us luck enough to reside here already cherish the relaxed pace, the beautiful scenery, its proximity to the coast, and for now it is still good value when compared with other popular rural locations. So, what exactly is the new normal in this market and what is our current advice to clients?
Over the Winter there has been a severe lack of good quality £1.25M+ larger houses, (but this does look like it is about to change). The decent-looking houses that are available are still available for a reason; road noise or lack of privacy, or they are priced unrealistically, and the vendor is not willing to reduce the asking price. Couple this with the number of cash buyers still registered with Agents and needing to find a house quickly.
Buyers are increasingly concerned about the cost of taking on an older property. Many ‘more senior’ vendors are down-sizing and haven’t made any improvements since the 1980’s. The upfront costs for making a period property energy-efficient and user-friendly for the next 20 years can be frightening, and must be factored-in to any purchase. It is easy to fall in love with a listed building, but harder to convince the planners to allow you to replace those chilly old windows with even the thinnest of double-glazed units. As the market calms there should be more scope to negotiate with vendors over any unexpected costs arising from your survey.
Working from home looks as if it is here to stay, allowing young families to move out of London earlier, and still maintain their income. Our briefs often include a good home office, or two. The Paddington to Exeter line offers the fastest trains for those unavoidable days back in the office, so being close to either Tiverton Parkway or Taunton station is popular. The Waterloo line to Exeter travels the lower coastal route, it is 45 minutes slower, but that compromise allows many more fabulous locations that are nearer to the coast to be on your list of locations to consider.
Off-market and discreet sales seem to be on the rise and Stacks long-standing relationships with local agents means that we are well-placed to help you to take advantage of these opportunities.
Rising interest rates certainly do affect the market here. Some of our clients can now borrow less and have adjusted their budgets accordingly and we have noticed issues at the bottom of the chain with some buyers experiencing difficulty borrowing as much as expected, and gifting from relatives saving the day. It is good news for the longer-term outlook that interest rates on 5-year fixed deals now seem to have turned a corner and are on the way down.
2023 may turn out to be the right time to buy in this part of the world. The market has slowed, but the underlying reasons that guarantee that more and more people will want to live here means that longer-term growth is certain.

A fabulous farmhouse with land in East Devon, recently acquired for clients through a Discreet Sale.

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