Agent Insight: Lee Cooke of Connells, Wolverhampton
For our latest Agent Insight column we speak to Lee Cooke, local director of Connells, about the property market in Wolverhampton
Could you please tell us a bit about your company?
We are part of the Connells Group, which boasts around 500 estate agency branches in the UK. We have come a long way from when our branch opened 18 years ago, and we now have the biggest residential sales team in Wolverhampton. For the last five years we have been the top selling Connells branch in the UK, and have spent the last seven years as the top estate agency in Wolverhampton. In addition to residential sales, we also deal with lettings and property management.
What are market conditions currently like in Wolverhampton?
When the market crashed, our business here in Wolverhampton actually increased, and we needed to work harder and smarter. Now the market is stable we are doing very well, making around 50 sales per month. We haven’t seen prices increase dramatically here, but we are seeing lots of quality homes in the most sought after areas receiving multiple offers. Unfortunately, there still remains a shortage of homes in the best areas, and that is a challenge we’re facing.
How much do homes cost to buy and rent in Wolverhampton?
In Wolverhampton, a one-bedroom property costs around £80,000 in an average area, up to around £120,000 in a highly sought after area. Traditional semi-detached homes cost between £130,000-150,000 and four-bedroom detached homes vary from £180,000-£300,000 depending on the property and the local area. In terms of lettings, we would expect the price range for a standard three-bedroom semi-detached home to be around £500-600 per calendar month.
Do first-time buyers make up a significant proportion of your sales?
We see a huge mix of purchasers, including plenty of first-time buyers, retirees and investors. The Help to Buy scheme led to a huge amount of new homes being purchased, but we’ve now reached a point where there is a real shortage of new build properties available. Interestingly, first-time buyers are generally purchasing traditional three-bedroom semi-detached homes at around the £125,000-£135,000 mark.
Do you see much activity from property investors?
Investors here tend to stay away from new homes and concentrate on buy-to-let investments rather than investing to sell on. Our lettings and property management teams are among the very best in offering landlords all the cover they need. There was a time when landlords simply wanted the cheapest possible service for their buy-to-let investment, but increasingly they are seeing the importance of using a company that provides an excellent service, as opposed to a fly-by-night estate agency who will do the bare minimum.
What do you expect to see happen in the local market over the next 12 months?
I expect to see sales continue at a high volume, but I don’t expect prices to increase in Wolverhampton. Vendor expectation has sometimes exceeded market conditions of late, so it is especially important for vendors to trust their estate agent to get the right price for their home.