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  1. An interesting new angle from the MSM! https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/uk/country-house-price-bubble-could-burst/ Where the country house price bubble could burst Bidding wars and cold, hard cash: the rush to move in the wake of the pandemic drove a well-documented frenzy in the rural property market. But there are signs that this is a bubble that could soon burst, causing prices to fall, especially in “B-list” locations. Buyers could suddenly find they have overpaid substantially. In October 2019, 15pc of rural homes sold above their asking price, according to Hamptons estate agents. In October 2020, that share had climbed to 18pc. In the same month this year, it rocketed to 40pc. This was the highest share on record, which goes back to 2009. In remote rural areas, 46pc of homes sold had three or more buyers, according to Hamptons. In the countryside, 29pc of homes sold so far this year were subject to bidding wars, a jump from 18pc last year. Sale prices have climbed by 9.8pc in the year to date, building on 8.7pc growth in 2020, according to Hamptons. This was a sea change from the 0.3pc flatline recorded in 2019. Prices of the most expensive country homes have jumped 20pc over the course of the pandemic, said Jonathan Bramwell, of The Buying Solution consultants. He noted a 7,500 sq ft house in the Cotswolds with a £6.5m asking price. It is now under offer at £7.1m. “Two years ago, I would have said it would go for £5m,” said Mr Bramwell. That is equivalent to a 42pc jump. But in the most expensive parts of the rural property market, the boom is losing steam. Prices have finally become too steep and buyers no longer feel that pandemic-induced time pressure to buy that helped push up bids. In the Surrey town of Haslemere, previously a super-charged propert hotspot in the pandemic, a house was listed four months ago with an asking price of £2.5m. Richard Winter, a buying agent, said: “First it dropped to £2.25m, now it is down to £1.95m. We have made an offer but it is still nowhere near guide.” The dynamics of the market have shifted. “Back in May, we were bidding on a house in Hampshire that had an asking price of £1.95m and it went for £2.25m. There were six people bidding for the same house,” said Mr Winter. “The difference between then and now is that agents are guiding at much higher prices and buyers aren’t as eager to compete. They don’t want to get into bidding wars.” Deborah Moriaty, an agent at Richard Winter Surrey Property Search, said: “The market is more subdued, it is not moving at the same voracious pace. We have been securing properties at asking price or just below.” The stamp duty holiday, which triggered an artificial spike in activity, has now gone. Workers are returning to offices and commuting links are becoming more important again. Agents still report exceptional demand, but there is a question mark over the future of pandemic trends. “It will become a very polarised market,” said Mr Bramwell. “The places that are always popular, in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with good schooling and train links to London, they are bulletproof.” The country’s secondary markets, however, are not. “During the pandemic, areas without these qualities have seen huge price inflation. Maybe they are half an hour from a station, or they’re out on a limb for the school runs. Suddenly, when the market turns, there will be nothing else drawing buyers in. That’s where someone could really burn their fingers,” said Mr Bramwell. Areas within a 2.5 to three hour journey radius from London will be vulnerable, he said. “People who paid £3m for a property could easily find it is back at £2.5m quite quickly.” But some buyers simply do not care. Alex Goldstein (triple brackets?), a buying agent who works between Yorkshire and London, said: “People are taking a much longer viewpoint [when buying property]. It used to be five to 10 years. Now it is 15 to 20. If they have to pay over the odds to blow everyone else out of the water, they feel it will be OK over a 20-year period. They are prepared to go through the short-term pain.” In Yorkshire, sales of the most expensive homes at 5pc or 10pc over guide price are common, said Mr Goldstein. But not all mortgage providers are on board. “Surveyors and lenders have struggled to keep pace, and we are seeing down valuations.” In one case, a buyer offered £1m and had to source an extra £30,000 in cash after their lender downvalued the property. The post-pandemic surge in activity could come at a price further down the line. Chris Sykes, of mortgage broker Private Finance, said: “The stamp duty holiday did spur decisions very quickly and a lot of people brought plans forward. There could be a bit of a corresponding lull in the future. That could mean prices could stay flat in the medium term.” Anticipated rate rises will have a cooling effect, added Mr Winter. Aside from reducing buyers’ purchasing power, rate rises could trigger a rise in supply. “It may encourage people to sell because they will be worried the market will slow,” he said. “We’re seeing quite a lot of people who want to buy and put their house on the market in January.”
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