Estate agent insight: Interview with Steven Bond of Beresfords
Stephen Maunder continues his regular look at national and regional estate agents across the UK and finds out about the current property market in Essex from Steven Bond, managing director (commercial) of Beresfords.
Please can you tell us a little bit about Beresfords?
Beresfords is a privately owned company founded in 1968. We are based in Essex and are one of the largest agents in the South East with 13 offices and 25 departments covering everything from residential sales and lettings to property investment and surveying. Our first office was in Upminster and in the last 45 years we have expanded right up the A12.
What are housing market conditions like in Essex?
The market is buoyant in terms of both residential sales and lettings. Both have very high demand and stock is at a real premium, with anything reasonably priced selling very quickly. We sell everything from studio apartments right up to large detached homes, and we have a special department who deal with country estates that can be valued at anything up to £10m.
Where are the best places for first time buyers to purchase a property?
Colchester, Chelmsford and Braintree are popular destinations for first-time buyers. Help to Buy has had an effect in terms of buyers registering; we currently have in excess of 500 prospective buyers signed up with Beresfords. Educating people about Help to Buy is a challenge, as there has not been enough information given by the government about the way the scheme works and its progress to date.
Where should property investors be looking to purchase a property?
There are two types of investors. Older investors seeking a regular income every month tend to look towards the north of the county to Colchester, Braintree and Romford, where rental yields are better. Younger investors are not as dependent on short-term earnings and will look for longer-term capital growth. For this purpose, areas such as Chelmsford, Brentwood and Upminster are very popular.
What are your predictions for the property market in 2014?
There is the prospect of a 0.5% interest rate increase, but I wouldn't expect an increase of any more than that. The government will not want to dampen the confidence in the market, and indeed some people are predicting there will be no increase at all in 2014. When rates do rise I expect to see them gradually grow over a five-year period. I expect to see strong activity in 2014, but as a country we need to be building around 250,000 new homes a year - in the last five years we have been building less than half of that.
Is now a good time to sell your home?Yes, it's a good time to sell, but it's all relative. Unless you're moving somewhere like the Outer Hebrides, if you're selling at the top you'll be buying at the top, and vice versa.
You can find out more about Beresfords at www.beresfordsgroup.co.uk