When buying or selling at auction, it’s useful to know the current state of the property market in the area in which you are selling or investing.
Essex property market booms
It was recently revealed by an article on EssexLive that the housing market in the county has boomed in the last five years, with Essex witnessing some of the biggest house price rises of anywhere in the UK.
Analysis of data from property website Zoopla - which allows you to search for house prices as well as changes in the average house value in postcodes from across the UK, and also enables you to compare with other areas nearby – shows that, on average, house prices in Essex have increased by as much as 28% since 2014, one of the biggest rises nationwide.
Zoopla splits England into 65 different areas, and only seven of those have seen an average house value rise of more than 20% over the last five years. Essex is one of those and has seen the fourth biggest growth in the country (21.52%), only behind Kent, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire.
Everywhere from Romford and Dagenham, to Hornchurch, Witham, Basildon and Colchester, have seen prices rise since 2014, helped by strong local amenities, transport links and a greater affordability than London and other parts of the Home Counties.
Thames Estuary performs strongly
While Brexit uncertainty has undoubtedly had an impact on us all, and caused a number of significant issues, certain places with a Leave majority have benefitted from increased house price growth in the three and a half years since the referendum result was announced.
Research carried out by Proportunity found that property prices in leave-majority areas in England and Wales have outperformed those in remain-voting local authorities since June 2016, with the top-performing local authority in England and Wales over the past three years being Castle Point (72.70% leave), situated on the north edge of the Thames Estuary in Essex.
There is no knowing for sure if Brexit has had any impact on this, of course, and it may have more to do with increased demand from young Londoners priced out of the capital pushing up prices in more affordable locations.
But sellers in this part of Essex will be pleased that, despite seemingly chronic Brexit paralysis, their house prices haven’t been impacted – quite the opposite, in fact.
Witham rises in popularity
Perhaps best known until now as the hometown of Olly Murs and a Chelmsford commuter suburb, Witham is attracting an increasing number of first-time buyers looking for affordable homes, as well as buy-to-let investors hunting for a bargain and commuters (both renting and buying) eager for quick links into London.
It takes just 45 minutes from Witham to London, while the area is also home to a number of good local schools, a characterful town centre and easy access to the likes of Chelmsford and Colchester.
It’s also quieter than its near neighbours, which might help to explain why there is a rising number of new flats, houses and developments popping up in the town.
According to Rightmove, house prices in Witham have been growing significantly in recent years, with house prices in the last year up 12% on the year before and some 19% up on 2016. The town currently has an overall average price of just over £297,000, with most of the sales in the past year for terraced homes. Flats are the most affordable option, averaging out at £179,542.
Pubs on tap
One of the most unlikely trends in the Essex property market at present is the proliferation of pubs and B&Bs (both freehold and leasehold) up for sale, ready for buyers to purchase right now.
For budding landlords or would-be bed and breakfast owners, there are options on the table everywhere from Harwich and Southend-on-Sea to the brilliantly named Walton-on-the-Naze and Colchester.
The leasehold can be surprisingly cheap on pubs, bars and B&Bs, but freeholds tend to be considerably more expensive.
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own pub, pouring pints and chinwagging with the regulars, you might find one at an Essex auction house near you if this current trend continues. Pubs and bars, which could in some cases be derelict or in need of serious renovation, could also offer an opportunity for buyers and investors to convert into residential use.
The appeal of living or renting in an old pub, with all the period features and quirk they contain, could be significant. At the same time, the amount of work that would need to go into converting this kind of space – and the inevitable planning and regularly hoops you would have to jump through – may make you think twice.
As ever, when it comes to buying or selling at auction, it pays to be well-prepared, with a clear strategy and plan beforehand.