Saturday, 4 October 2008

More evidence of house market slowing

I've mentioned before on this blog that I have at least a cursory glance at the property supplement in the Saturday edition of the Western Morning News. Well today that hasn't taken very long because it has been slimmed down to 32 rather than the usual 40 plus pages! One house that particularly caught my eye was a restored period cottage on the bank of a very small creek that shortly discharges into effectively a small tributary of the River Dart. I decided to do a little bit of forensic investigation not because of any desire to purchase you understand but for my own amusement. The agents have decided to go down the route of having an 'Open House' next Saturday, a ploy that is increasingly being used by estate agents. Intriguingly they are confining this to one hour, from 2pm to 3pm. Aha I thought, I know this location (I've also looked at it on 'Google Earth') and I know that the creek will dry out completely at low tide. I then checked today's tide times and realising how much later high tide would be in a week's time soon deduced why that particularly short time window was selected. One particular thing I like to think about when looking at these property details is the little matter of the main aspect of the house. To me which direction your main rooms are facing is of more than academic interest; in this instance all I can say is that it would pay to be an early riser to benefit from the sunshine.

It's always been a source of wonder to me how the more expensive properties are priced. The one I've been describing has a guide of £1.5 - £2 million. These upmarket agents, all posh suits and expensive brochures, seriously underwhelm me with these 'guide' prices, it's almost like plucking something out of thin air. The top and bottom limits of the guide are half a million pounds apart for goodness sake so what is that supposed to mean? My own interpretation is that they assume that there will be a bidding war with the price moving upward. But is this realistic in today's financial climate? Another point about the 'Open House' scenario here is that it really needs some decent weather, if next Saturday is anything like today then it could finish up wet and windy, not ideal.

Turning now to my local weekly paper (East Cornwall Times) I see that a Tavistock estate agent is flagging up 16 of the properties currently on its books. Half of these are shown as "New" but the other 8 have "New Price" shown against them. One of these I know has already seen over 20% shaved off its original asking price. Where will it all end I ask myself.

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