Cambridge has been named one of the Sunday Times Best Places Top 20 perennials, the list which celebrates the places that have appeared in almost every list over the past five years. Moreover, The Shelfords, Hemingford Grey and Ely have also been named in the Top 20 Best Places to Live: East of England for 2017.

The supplements assess a wide range of factors, from jobs, exam results and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops in order to compile the definitive top locations to make a home.

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Has the rise and rise of prices in Cambridge city finally come to an end? The latest UK Cities House Price Index published by Hometrack would suggest that is the case. Certainly, Cambridge lagged behind Oxford, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool over the past 12 months. However, with London the only city to outperform Cambridge since the last housing peak in 2007, perhaps it was time for others to catch up.

To see the latest numbers Hometrack Index

As we near the end of October, it is time to reflect on the current state of the Cambridge property market. If you were to read the press comments from the city’s estate agents you might be forgiven for thinking that everything was rosy. Well yes and no.

Prices are still holding up which is as much a factor of lack of supply than anything else. It seems to me that potential vendors are being pretty cautious. If they don’t need to sell they are sitting on their hands.  On the buying side, there are definitely less buyers about.  However, even with less buyers, the lack of supply means there is still competition for the best houses.  The best locations will always sell well.

A prime example is a house that recently came to the market in North Terrace, overlooking Midsummer Common.  The initial guide price of £800,000 looked pretty reasonable, and so it proved. Lots of viewers and lots of offers. The house went to best and final offers earlier this week and the rumours suggest that the agreed sale price was “significantly” in excess of the guide.

Elsewhere, developers are offering to pay stamp duty on some of the schemes around the city, a sure sign that some of the heat has come out of the market. Now might be the time to look again at some of the better new developments.  I was at Aura (off Long Road) with a client recently and was impressed with how the area is changing. The promised infrastructure is becoming a reality, with Trumpington Community College up and running and the guided bus carrying passengers to and from the Biomedical Campus.

Investors piled into the market ahead of the Stamp Duty changes at the end of March.  Since then they have been conspicuous by their absence. It will be interesting to see whether the weak pound will start to tempt overseas buyers back into Cambridge.

Overall, it feels like the Cambridge property market is in a state of flux, subject to the vagaries of whatever economic news emerges over the next few months.

A month has passed since the UK made the the decision to leave the EU.  The property market was predicted to go into free fall.  But what has really happened, on the ground in Cambridge?

Immediately after the Brexit result, Stephen Mitcham, chief executive of The Cambridge building society took the view that the market would rebound quickly from any slump, adding that prices are primarily a function of supply and demand.  It is certainly true that  many local areas don’t have enough homes, so prices are likely to remain supported until that imbalance changes.

My experience as a property finder provides an interesting take on where the market sits today. One of my investment clients immediately pulled out of a deal after the Brexit result. His view was that the market would come off 25-30% and he would not proceed with the purchase unless there was a substantial price reduction.

Another of my client’s lost the buyer at the bottom of her chain (unrelated to Brexit) but the property was remarketed and the chain was back together within 3 days.

Finally, I have a client in a bidding war for a townhouse in a prime location.  The price is already 10% above the original guide!

My take is that the prime Cambridge market is still very active.  The main driver is the lack of supply and that is keeping prices high.  At lower levels we are seeing some price reductions but good Cambridge houses are as rare as hen’s teeth and buyers realise that if they want one, they need to act quickly.

 

According to a press release from Home.co.uk, questions are being asked about the future of the property market in the East of England where house prices are rising faster than anywhere else in the UK.

Home.co.uk’s June Asking Price Index shows that the region’s average asking price has risen twice as fast as anywhere else in the UK over the last year. At 13.9%, the East of England’s rises far outstrip Greater London’s 7.0% year-on-year rise and the South East’s increase of 7.8%.

East of England price rises

Last year saw the number of house sales in Cambridge fall with 20% fewer sales recorded. High prices appear to be the main culprit.

The city saw the biggest fall in sales of any of the UK’s top 20 cities, according to property market analyst Hometrack.

Hometrack said that in 2015 sales in Cambridge dipped by 20.4 per cent – nearly three times the rate in London on -7 per cent.

But at the same time house prices in Cambridge were at the top of the list, rising by 13.9 per cent, to an average of £395,600, with prices in London going up by 13.4 per cent with an average of £455,100.

Read more Cambridge property sales dropping

Centre for Cities 2016Cambridge remains the country’s most innovative city with a highly skilled workforce, booming private sector and rising wages – but housing has never been less affordable.

Those were the headlines from the flagship Cities Outlook 2016 report by think tank Centre for Cities, which compared various facets of 64 cities across Britain.

Cambridge was among the country’s top performers for population growth, house building, productivity and the tax it generates for the Treasury.

 

Yesterday the government proposed that the Bank of England should be given powers to regulate buy-to-let mortgages.

The Bank can already limit lending for residential mortgages, and has asked the government for power to intervene in the rapidly growing buy-to-let sector. Measures could include an ability to cap the maximum loan-to-value ratio for buy-to-let mortgages and/or demanding a higher ratio of rental income over and above mortgage payments.

This proposal is just the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the size of private rental sector in favour of promoting home ownership.

From April 2016, landlords face a 3% Stamp Duty surcharge when they buy a property. Also the amount of tax relief they can claim is to be cut, with a change to landlords being taxed on turnover and not profits. And landlords who exit the sector will find their Capital Gains Tax bill landing on the mat much sooner than it does at the moment.

The commuter hotspot of Cambridge is tempting priced-out London renters who are offsetting higher season ticket costs and a 50-minute commute with cheaper rents, bigger homes and good schools.  An article in the Evening Standard highlights some of the reasons why Londoners are considering moving North-East to Cambridge.  To read the full article, click here.

Ahead of the weekend’s Boat Races, the FT has examined how the two cities compare if you are looking to buy a house. On the face of it, there is little to choose between the two cities. The average house price in Oxford is £423,000 versus £421,000 in Cambridge, but Cambridge has seen the most impressive growth figures in recent years with values up 29% since the financial crises, 8% ahead of the rate of growth in Oxford.

And the key factor behind the difference?  Oxford has traditionally has a more diverse economy with the Cowley Car Plant employing large numbers over the years.  This is now in decline.  By contrast Cambridge is now a vibrant hub for hi tech and biotech companies.  Start ups are following the lead from giants like Arm Holdings. Microsoft Research now has a lab in the city, while multinationals are settling in the area, including AstraZeneca, which has its head office at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

To read the full story click here.