• Thinking of buying or selling a rural property? The region’s residential property market can be hard to keep track of at the best of times. Sara Smith, Head of Residential Property at Brachers law firm, shares her latest insights to bring you up to speed.

    It’s been an eventful few years for the UK’s residential property market. After the initial downturn in the number of transactions and house price growth in April 2020 (remember the restrictions on moving following the first Covid lockdown?), there followed a sharp rise in the second half of that year.

    This saw the housing market boom, largely thanks to the stamp duty holiday which ran from July 2020 to September 2021.

    However, the bubble has burst over the last year. We’ve seen a huge drop in the number of transactions due to the cost-of-living crisis, while high mortgage rates are having an impact on house prices, too.

    So, how are things looking now? Indicators still point to a downbeat forecast, with statistics signalling the number of new buyer enquiries is down at -39%. Meanwhile, house prices continue on a downward spiral, with the South East being one of the most impacted regions.
    This has been felt by the rural property market significantly. The recent pandemic saw individuals reassessing their priorities and looking to enhance their quality of life. With that, many began to seek out a rural lifestyle. This decision was reinforced by the ability to work from home, allowing workers to move further away from the office. As property specialists, we saw more and more individuals yearning for green space, fresh air and a slower pace of life.

    However, due to the high mortgage rates, most buyers no longer have the finances to purchase, even with the Bank of England’s recent relaxation to mortgage regulations. As a result, buyers are being cautious which continues to put downward pressure on house prices.

    That said, there is some light on the horizon. Experts predict that while we will see prices fall this year, we can expect them to recoup any loss (expected to be about 10%) by 2026.

    Realising your family property goals

    Buyers affected the most by the current market are first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors. With rents at their highest in decades, parents are increasingly seeking to support their children get on the property ladder by gifting money towards the deposit. Often, this gift will come from their savings or by releasing equity in their own property.

    In fact, the Equity Release Council have reported that interest rates for equity release mortgages have fallen in 2023, making this an increasingly feasible option. Once carrying a less-than-glowing reputation, equity release is now considered a mainstream financial solution, as more and more homeowners over-55 seek a means to release wealth locked up in their property.

    Whether you are buying, selling, looking to remortgage, or wish to release equity from your rural property, it is important that you instruct the right person with the experience required to ensure the transaction goes through as quickly as possible.

    Brachers’ Residential Property team are on hand to offer you our wealth of knowledge; you can entrust us to lead you safely through the process, whatever your property need is.

    This article was first published in the November 2023 edition of South East Farmer.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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