Confidence in St Albans housing market

Manager of John Curtis Village & Country Homes Mark Lumley outside Whippletrees which is up for sale

Manager of John Curtis Village & Country Homes Mark Lumley outside Whippletrees which is up for sale - Credit: Archant

Confidence in St Albans’ housing market has increased with viewing numbers growing dramatically and prices spiking by up to 15 per cent in some property types over the last year.

Herts Advertiser’s chief reporter Debbie White asked local estate agents, many with decades of selling experience, whether a housing “bubble” is looming.

Anecdotes about homes selling within hours of going on the market, or for thousands of pounds more than the asking prices come thick and fast from local estate agents. With bricks and mortar being their bread and butter, they are welcoming of a recent surge in prices and sales, but concerned about the shortage of houses to sell.

Yet fears of a housing “bubble” in St Albans have been firmly swept aside by agents who are united in their view that the market is recovering but not becoming out-of-hand.

Stuart Cassidy, director of Cassidy & Tate Estate Agents, said the agency had to cancel further visits to one property which attracted 51 viewings, and ended up selling for £50,000 over the asking price.

According to property search website Zoopla, the average price paid for 1,720 properties sold over the last year in St Albans, was £388,031.

With the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing average house prices in England have reached a record high, questions have been raised about whether the UK’s house prices are on the verge of a “bubble”.

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The Council of Mortgage Lenders has recently said that while the launch of the Government’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme is taking place against a recovering housing market, it was too soon to gauge how much extra housing and mortgage demand the scheme would stimulate.

The scheme helps existing home owners and first time buyers buy a home with as little as a five per cent deposit.

However in St Albans, estate agents say while there has been little interest in the scheme locally, it has helped stimulate the market.

People concerned about increased competition to buy homes have entered the market earlier than planned, for fear of missing out.

Mark Lumley, manager of John Curtis Village and Country Homes, said: “It’s helping to bring more buyers and complete chains.

“But there is a lack of available property, which is always a danger where you get a strong supply of buyers, which is forcing prices up.”

Nick Doyle, director of Aitchisons, said: “I don’t know if there is a housing bubble, but there has been a bit of a frenzy.”

Estate agents said house prices had increased between five and 15 per cent over the past year, depending on the type of property, with semi-detached, three-bedroom homes seeing the biggest rise.