Sometimes I struggle with the notion that Cambridge is actually in England, mainly it must be said when I watch the BBC news. Constant talk of a double dip recession, house prices falling and demand slackening all bear absolutely no relation to what we are seeing across our four local estate agency offices. This summer we have broken all records for the number of houses sold since being established in 1989 and we are not alone – I speak to the directors of other agents across the City and the story is the same. Why?
The main answer lies, I believe, in the availability of stock. There is no doubt that the abolition of Home Information Packs and their associated charges has brought many, many more properties to the market (our current stock level of properties for sale is over 300 whereas a year ago it was under 150), but the fact remains that we are short of homes in the City. It was not that many years ago that John Prescott was talking about the need for 500,000 new homes in the East of England and that need has not gone away. If anything it has got worse as a lot of developers either mothballed sites or postponed developments during the dark days of the recession.
Another much publicised issue is the availability of finance. Yes, it is far harder than it was to secure a mortgage – perhaps rightly so – but Cambridge has never really been a 100% mortgage market. In other words if people want to buy in Cambridge they generally have a suitably sized deposit in order to secure the funds required, so whilst it may well be a problem elsewhere it does not seem to be here.
All in all, therefore the Cambridge market stands in good health with supply and demand nicely balanced. Properties are selling quickly but they need to be priced sensibly because there is enhanced competition. So whilst prices are not falling they are certainly not surging ahead either.