Back in December, I reflected on the ups and downs Cobb Farr (and the housing marketing in general for Bath & Bradford on Avon) had faced throughout a challenging year.
From stifling spring lockdowns and stamp duty holiday frenzies to a surge in buyers migrating towards the South West, 2021 saw us continue to adapt to the unpredictable times of an ongoing pandemic.
And while it’s important to reflect on the year that was and the lessons we’ve learned, I’m also mindful of the need to look ahead at the months to come and share some of my own thoughts on what 2022 will bring for the housing market in our little corner of the world.
Both Bath & Bradford on Avon have always remained popular places to live, and that trend has certainly carried on over the last month and will likely continue to do so in the year to come.
As a result, I’m seeing a real demand for a wide variety of properties in both locations, ranging from those seeking a little more space with a larger house and garden, to prospective buyers coming in from London who want a property outside of the capital.
There’s also added demand from those looking to add properties to their investment portfolios, although the gradual phasing out of mortgage relief has made investments with more manageable mortgages a more attractive bet.
Interestingly, I’m seeing a mixture of prospective buyers browsing the property market in Bath and Bradford on Avon, with interest flowing in both from the capital (as buyers look further afield for locations that offer more space at a commutable distance) and those closer to home that want a larger living space but don’t want to lose the benefits of living in such a sought-after part of the country.
The advent of flexible working means those working in London don’t necessarily need to be in the office all the time, and with a wide portfolio of well-performing schools in both Bath and Bradford on Avon, those with families (or plans to start one) can do so in a more affordable setting.
That continued demand for properties, and that growth in interest from outside Wiltshire and Somerset, does mean that demand is far outstripping supply – especially in popular postcodes such as BA1 and BA2. There are likely many reasons for this scarcity, but the uncertainty over the market and whether those looking to sell will find a new property of their own in time is likely making some homeowners hesitant to put their properties on the market.
And with so many people having moved house during the last 18 months in the wake of various national and regional lockdowns, these homeowners are also less likely to move again for the next 5-10 years. So, when a property does come onto the market it’s instantly drawing considerable attention from prospective buyers.
New and old
Bath has often struggled with the capacity to support large new housing developments, mainly due to a lack of suitable sites, but there have been some small-to-medium-sized developments popping up within the city, so new builds are still a possibility for those on the property hunt in these areas. Our Longmeadow development in Beckington, for instance, which will feature several four-to-five-bedroom houses, has proved incredibly popular with every single property being secured over the previous 12 months.
Bradford on Avon also has new developments emerging, especially on its outskirts and outlying areas, but it’s beginning to face a similar issue as Bath due to a high demand for properties and a dwindling number of suitable places to build new ones. A new development we’re involved in at Avonvale Mews, which will feature five three-bed townhouses, has seen a similar outcome to Longmeadow with every property already under offer. So, if you’re looking for a new build in these areas, you really need to act swiftly.
Interestingly, most of the properties Cobb Farr has sold in these areas weren’t migrating directly from London but were Bath-based residents who had initially moved into the area from further afield and were now seeking more space.
Outlying villages are also proving popular locations due to their proximity to Bath and Bradford on Avon, with renewed interest in places such as Norton St Philip and Beckington among many others. So, if you are interested in moving into the area, or want to expand out a little further, some of these villages are well worth investigating for their housing availability.
I’ve also seen an increase in demand for more modern properties, or properties that have modernised to one extent or another. Period properties are always going to be a signature for Bath and demand will always be there, but there’s a rising interest in more contemporary property developments and renovated offerings thanks to a greater selection of these type of properties on the market.
Large lateral apartments have also become a strong alternative for buyers in 2022, with convenient and modernised ‘super flats’ such as these offering more space than your typical apartment-style property. Apartments have become a much more popular style of property recently, and I expect that will trend will continue into the rest of 2022.
Interest rates are slowly beginning to creep up, but they’re still relatively low as of writing. While those rates will eventually start to rise again, I expect to see a surge in buyers throughout these areas who want to make the most of these lower rates while they’re still in effect. There are some pretty good deals out there, especially in buy-to-lets.
Overall, prices will continue to rise – Zoopla predicts house prices will rise by around 3% in 2022 – but the good news is they should start to level out after the frenzied ‘race for space’ of 2021. Although, it’s important to note that January was the strongest start to a year since 2005 with annual house prices growing to 11.2% (Financial Times).
That overall stabilisation will help the housing market in Bath and Bradford on Avon catch its breath, but house prices are still high enough to make it less than ideal for first-time buyers. However, while lower interest rates mean new buyers have a better chance of securing a mortgage, the issue of affordability means the choice of properties at your disposal gets even thinner.
However, the Bank of England is considering removing the rule that currently requires lenders to confirm if a borrower can afford a 3% rise on their mortgage before approving their application, which would greatly increase the chance of mortgage applications being accepted. And with the rise of longer-term mortgages as well, first-time buyers might have a more positive experience in 2022.
Some general thoughts
Bath will always be a popular destination in the South West, both with people looking to buy properties and those visiting the area to enjoy its broad selection of retail and hospitality offerings. However, the local council certainly aren’t making things any easier on those living in the area or those commuting in.
Plenty of new houses have been built over the last 4-5 years, but there’s still not enough infrastructure to support this increase in population
A lack of effective solutions to the sheer lack of parking options for residents and visitors is still an issue in Bath, as is the plan to introduce permit parking on Sundays; something that would no doubt have a detrimental effect on the retail trade with visitors that are put off by the idea of potentially having to pay to park on a Sunday.
In summary, a lack of properties entering the market in Bath, Bradford on Avon and their surrounding areas continues to be an issue for many prospective buyers. However, once homeowners begin to regain confidence in the market and start listing their properties again, we should start to see more options becoming available in 2022 and beyond.
And if you are worried about the lack of available properties affecting your own house hunt, Cobb Farr is here to help. If we’re managing the sale of your home, you can use delay completion to give you more time to find the right home for you.
If you’d like to learn more or discuss your property needs, you can contact me on 07771747860 or email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you.