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Well, it was a fantastic day out at The ESTAS Awards yesterday in London's swanky Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.
The photo here is our Managing Director Rowan Waller being named as one of the Top 25 Individuals in the UK, in the People Award category - a Customer Service Award and the same category where he picked up the trophy last year.
We were also Shortlisted in the Best Estate Agent Category in the South of England... Not bad going after two and a half years being open, we thought!
Major congratulations go to our mates at Mark Ewin Estate Agents in Bury St. Edmunds, who only went and won the Gold Award for their East of England category! What an achievement! Mark was our Managing Director Rowan's mentor when he first went into Estate Agency in 2005 and inspired him to go it alone back in 2014 - well done that man, truly well deserved.
It was a great day with some of the Wallers team, but we need to give a couple of last shout-outs... First to Chaz Snell of The Plastic Goldfish Company, our regular property photographer who we would have loved to have along too - check out his work on our website; and finally to our colleagues Nicki and Jane.... so sorry we couldn't take everyone, but somebody had to stay behind to hold the fort and do viewings!!
Here's to a great year for the rest of 2017, and hopefully more of the same at the ESTAS in 2018 if we're lucky! 😊


New Year's Fireworks 2017 (photograph courtesy of Amy Jennings)

So! Here we are, at last – 2017!


Well, 2016 was a topsy-turvy year, alright; we said a fond farewell to David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Andrew Sachs…. amongst many others. We saw the UK vote for Brexit; we saw England crash out of the Euros in the Group Stages; we saw a Billionaire Tycoon and Reality TV Star with no political experience win the election to be the next President of the United States of America…


Sorry, I’m trying to think of some good things that happened too… Oh yes! Team GB finished second in the medals table at both the Olympics and Paralympics, and Andy Murray became World Number 1! I’m sure there was some other good stuff in there too. Somewhere.


As for the property market, we saw some changes. On April 1st, stamp duty increased for second purchases, adding an extra 3% levy on top of what would already normally be due. This means that for people purchasing a buy to let property at £250,000, their stamp duty would have been £2,500 on March 31st and before, compared to £10,000 on April 1st and since. Quite a change, right? And of course in a place like Oxford purchases higher than £250,000 are very much the norm.


The number of Buy-To-Let transactions going through certainly have reduced, which was absolutely the intention; however, our own experience is that it opened the door for more general residential buyers to compete in that market place, including First Timers (also the intention). Good access to credit meant that mortgages were not hard to come by, and various incentives and schemes have been around providing help for some who were unable to make that step previously, and this trend will continue.


Then we had the ‘Brexit’ debacle – sorry, I mean, then we had the ‘Brexit’ situation…. Look, I won’t harp on. Safe to say, I am unquestionably a ‘BRemainer’, and therefore was expecting End of Days when the result didn’t go my way. But, you know what, we lost two sales that first Friday morning ‘as a result of Brexit’, we then resold one of them on Saturday, and then on Sunday sold the other at £10,000 higher than first time round. I really can’t claim it has been bad for business... other things, perhaps, but for the property market, I’ve not seen it. We did not experience any drop in sales this year despite both the Stamp Duty change and the Brexit vote happening; in fact we did over 25% more sales in 2016 than in 2015.  


So what will 2017 mean for the property market? Well, we think it will be stable overall, and particularly in Oxford. The worst forecast that I have seen (or at least, of the forecasts that I give credence to) was from Savills predicting zero house price growth in 2017 nationally. It’s just my opinion, but I tend to optimistically disagree when it comes to our local market, and expect to see a modest rise in property prices between now and this time next year, around 2%-3%... not as fast as in previous years, but frankly there’s a lot to be said for slow and steady to stabilise a marketplace. There is uncertainty around, with Brexit negotiations yet to come, and with global events inevitably affecting our own domestic market. But ultimately, especially here, we have a high demand for housing and a lack of supply meeting that demand, which means that sellers in 2017 can feel encouraged to go ahead, as competition amongst eager buyers with access to credit will keep the market moving steadily forwards.

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