Sales survive interest rises

Despite four interest rate rises since last August, local estate agents say the higher cost of borrowing hasn't yet put a brake on house sales in the North-East.

Despite four interest rate rises since last August, local estate agents say the higher cost of borrowing hasn't yet put a brake on house sales in the North-East.

Ian Greenwood, valuer at Sarah Mains, Low Fell, says the volume of sales compared to last year has been phenomenal.

He said: "Prices have continued to rise but not at the speed they rose last year. Gateshead is rising more than Low Fell as it has further to go. But the Low Fell market is very solid. Every time we sell a house on a street the ceiling price goes up.

"Those that come to the market are more serious about selling, with far less people testing the market, and the buyers out there are all more serious too, with less window shoppers."

Mr Greenwood believes that the interest rate rises haven't had much of an effect with first-time buyers. He added: "Flats on the avenues in Gateshead all get multiple offers. For anything under £125,000 it's rare not to get multiple offers.

"Tyneside flats are much in demand - both upper and lower. It used to be that upper flats sold for more because people thought they were more secure, but now that's not so much of an issue with buyers. These older properties with high ceilings don't have the noise issues either.

"At the upper end of the market, between £250,000 and £500,000, buyers will do whatever it takes to get their dream property, whether it's getting a bridging loan or renting for a while."

Justin Mathews, branch manager of Your Move, Alnwick, says the Northumberland market is hotting up in the higher price brackets.

He said: "In the first part of the year we hadn't been selling much for over £200,000, but in the past few weeks we've seen quite a few sales over £250,000."

Hot spots, according to Justin, are Alnwick and the coastal villages of Craster, Embleton and Seahouses. "A couple from outside the region recently paid £365,000 for a holiday home," he said. "The Devon coast has always been popular but now people are realising that the Northumberland coast is just as good, if not better."

Justin admits that the recent spate of interest rate rises has slowed the first-time buyer market and says that properties under £125,000 are not selling as quickly.

But overall he thinks prices are still rising, albeit slowly and at a sustainable level. He also points out that the days when sellers could whip up a bidding war are over. He adds: "No-one is prepared to pay over the asking price in today's market."

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