Property expert David Goldin looks at the year ahead

We enter the new year with cautious optimism that we will see an active property market throughout 2014. As the economy slowly improves there is real evidence that we are in recovery mode.

The signs are encouraging with confidence and demand at their highest since 2008, due partly to:

  1. The government’s Help-to-Buy scheme
  2. Low interest rates
  3. Falling unemployment
  4. Building/construction companies/developers once again having the confidence to increase their housing stock and build, knowing there is a pent up demand for new housing, and in some cases offering part-exchange schemes to motivate buyers.

But we need to remember the economy is only slowly emerging from recession and it will be some time before we see any real growth. We are all affected by the delicate state of the nation’s finances, along with cost of living increases and low wage rises. We are all being squeezed, and the Chancellor tells us to expect more squeezing for some time, therefore affordability could be a problem during the year, so I do not expect prices to run away to unaffordable levels.

We don’t want BOOM or BUST but a healthy supply of properties available at any one time to meet the rising demand.

This cosmopolitan area is a magnet to many who work in London where extremely high property prices have pushed many to look to Sussex for suitable homes at more affordable prices.

With the advantage of fast (?) train journeys to London this demand has always kept up prices here and causes problems for local first time buyers by limiting the availability of one and two-bedroom flats which could cost in the region of £200,000 to £250,000 or small houses that sell for £250,000/£350,000, much higher than the national average. These starter homes are often beyond the reach of those hoping to get on to the property ladder and own their first home.

Buying and selling

It is very important to prepare yourself and your home when you make the decision to buy or sell. Getting everything in order beforehand can save a lot of time and heartache later in the process.

If you are seeking to buy it is important to know how much you can afford to borrow. Check with your building society, bank, or talk to a financial adviser, you may be surprised at how much you can borrow. You will also need to consider the best type of mortgage for your circumstances.

These and many other questions will need to be addressed before you are in a position to make an offer.

With this information to hand you can be confident that you won’t fall at the first fence.

Sellers should prepare their properties for sale, know where their deeds are, advise a solicitor about their plans – all these things will help to create a smooth transaction and hopefully a quicker exchange of contract when a buyer is found.

Your estate agent will be able to help with any other information and to guide you through the sale.

  • Due to the increasing demand for homes in the south-east gazumping has once again reared its ugly head. A friend recently told me he agreed to buy a property, had a survey, arranged his finance, agreed the sale of his flat and after seven weeks, whilst matters were progressing through the solicitors he was told by the owner’s agents a higher offer had been received, so the sale fell through because he was not prepared to enter a bidding battle. Costs had been incurred, the buyers of his flat withdrew as they could not wait until another property had been found.

Sadly this problem is likely to be on the increase, with the limited stock of properties available.