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Almost four in ten homes sell for asking price or MORE

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The number of homes selling for asking price or above is increasing as buyers chase down homes in a buoyant property market, new figures have revealed.

The percentage has been rising since the housing market reopened last year – in May in England, and in June in Wales – and has now reached a record high

At the most recent point asking and selling prices could be compared, in January this year, almost four in ten homes sold in England and Wales – at 37 per cent – achieved their final asking price or above, according to Rightmove.

With annual house price inflation accelerating since then – to 10.9 per cent in May, according to Nationwide Building Society – the proportion of asking price or higher deals may have grown further.

In January this year, more than a third of homes in England and Wales - at 37 per cent - achieved their final asking price or above, according to Rightmove

In January this year, more than a third of homes in England and Wales – at 37 per cent – achieved their final asking price or above, according to Rightmove

The property website based its research on its own asking prices and sold price data from the Land Registry.

The latest figure is an increase from 28 per cent in January 2020, and significantly higher than the long-term average of 23 per cent between 2005 and 2021.

The last record was set back in May 2016, when 36 per cent of homes sold for the asking price or above.

The region with the greatest number of asking price or more sales was Yorkshire and the Humber where 45 per cent of sellers saw their home selling for at least the listed price tag.

London saw the smallest proportion of homes reach at least the asking price, but even in the capital the figure was 30 per cent. 

The long-term average of homes achieving the asking price or above between 2005 and 2021 is 23 per cent

The long-term average of homes achieving the asking price or above between 2005 and 2021 is 23 per cent

Among the properties that reached asking price across England and Wales in January, 18 per cent sold for more than the listed price, which is the same as the previous high of 18 per cent in May 2016. 

Meanwhile, 19 per cent sold for exactly the asking price.

The long-term average between 2005 and 2021 for the proportion of homes selling for over the asking price is 10 per cent.

PERCENTAGE OF HOMES SOLD  FOR ASKING PRICE – AND AVE PRICE ACHIEVED
% of homes selling for asking price or above Ave % of final asking price achieved
Yorkshire and The Humber 45% 98.50%
North West 41% 98.20%
East Midlands 40% 98.40%
North East 39% 98.10%
West Midlands 39% 98.30%
East of England 37% 98.40%
South West 35% 98.10%
South East 34% 98.00%
Wales 32% 97.40%
London 30% 97.40%
England & Wales 37% 98.10%
Source: Rightmove & Land Registry based on January 2021 data.  

Rightmove’s Data Tim Bannister said: ‘This unique study quantifies the buyer bidding wars that agents have been reporting since the markets reopened last year, and is further evidence of the unprecedented market that emerged from the various lockdowns with many people deciding they wanted or needed to move as their requirements on space and surroundings changed.

‘I would, however, caution against sellers being tempted to ask their agent to put their property on for a price that’s much higher than market value.

‘Although many agents are seeing buyers scrambling to put in offers, if your property is priced too high at the beginning it will stick out like a sore thumb as buyers will compare the asking prices of similar properties in the same area.

‘You need to first get people through the door, even for desirable properties in the hotter areas. 

‘My advice would be to listen to your agent’s expert opinion, and be mindful that the market is now showing early signs of cooling.’

What final offer should you make? 

What should you offer if you’re faced with a bidding war on a property for sale that you want to buy and are invited to make your best and final offer?

We spoke to two experts about how to approach reaching the final amount you bid – one an estate agent selling homes and the other a buying agent, who acts for purchasers.

Vendors who receive multiple offers at final stage may choose the buyer who they would most like to see living in their home 

Robert McLaughlin, of estate agents KFH, said: ‘The buyer should first ask their agent for advice to get an idea on what the seller might accept as a final offer. 

‘Buyers should be prepared to offer the maximum price they are willing to pay. 

‘In the current market, buyers who attempt to offer an amount lower than the asking price may not endear themselves to the vendor. Buyers should ensure that they are flexible on their time frames, build a good rapport with the vendor and reiterate their position and the steps they have taken in writing. 

‘Vendors who receive multiple offers at final stage may choose the buyer who they would most like to see living in their home.’ 

Buying agent Henry Pryor said: ‘Work out what the property is worth to you, add £100 and that’s what you should bid. 

 The best you can do is to offer what the property is worth to you, and to stress your position – and pray

‘Don’t worry whether it is above or below the asking price. A property is worth what you will pay for it, the seller gets to decide if it’s enough.

‘If someone pays more then they either liked it more than you or had deeper pockets. 

‘I’ve done 24 ‘best and final offers’ this year, and been successful at 15. It’s a lousy way to buy a house and the best you can do is to offer what the property is worth to you, and to stress your position – such as having your finances and solicitors in place solicitor – and pray.’

 

 

The research matched individual Rightmove listings to Land Registry transactions and analysed the difference between the final asking price on Rightmove with the eventual sold price.

Data runs from January 2005 to January 2021, which is the latest month with sufficient sold price data available from Land Registry.

There is currently data available for an estimated 75 per cent of homes that completed in January, compared to an estimated 4 per cent available so far for homes that completed in April, with no data available yet for May completions.

The property website based its research on its own asking prices and sold price data from the Land Registry

The property website based its research on its own asking prices and sold price data from the Land Registry

Bruce King, of estate agents Cheffins in Cambridge, said: ‘As the winter of 2020 saw one of the busiest periods in the property market to date, the number of completions of properties in January were also much higher than usual, with the majority of houses being sold at over the asking price.

‘The last quarter of 2020 saw almost double the number of property sales agreed in comparison to 2019, as a number of factors impacted the housing market.

‘The coronavirus pandemic continued to put massive pressure on property sales outside of London and as buyers moved out to the regions in their droves, we saw a frenzied market with properties coming to the market selling within only a matter of days, with competitive bidding situations fast becoming the new normal.

‘The festive period presented itself with a lack of Christmas parties or holidays and so people were less distracted through the back end of last year and more willing to consider a January completion date.

‘For many they wanted to start the New Year with a new start, in a new property, and were willing to pay over the asking price to make that happen. This market behaviour we saw is an unusual phenomenon however, and it’s likely that the market will start to settle once the world slowly begins to open up again.

‘I’m doubtful we will see that level of ferocity in the market again this year. What has also certainly been the case over the past 18 months or so is that people have reignited their love for the house they live in. Home is now much higher on their priority list, rather than eating out, holidays or cars.’

And Marc von Grundherr, of estate agents Benham & Reeves in London, said: ‘It’s little wonder really that such a large proportion of home sales are at asking price or above given that the stamp duty holiday and pent up demand has led to a 50 per cent hike in buyer demand and therefore transactions.’

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Courts Service contradicts Garda declaration journalists were barred from court

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The Courts Service has openly contradicted An Garda Síochána’s declaration that journalists were barred from a court sitting in Waterford earlier this month on the orders of a district justice.

Former Fianna Fáil election candidate Kieran Hartley appeared before Judge Brian O’Shea at Dungarvan District Court on October 13th on a Section 6 public order charge for allegedly committing an offence against a family member of a local garda.

Journalists Eoghan Dalton and Christy Parker were barred for more than three hours from entering the court chamber by two gardaí, who said they had been told the judge had directed that no press be allowed in.

The decision to bar the press – the second time that this has happened to a court hearing where Judge O’Shea was sitting following an incident at a Dublin hearing in 2017 – has now been raised with Garda management.

During exchanges with the reporters, who questioned the decision, one garda said “no one is allowed in this morning”, and while they “honestly” did not “know any details of it” they had been “directed by the court to not allow anyone into it”.

The Garda Press Office later that day insisted “the presiding judge had directed that the court be cleared of persons not involved in the case” as a “voir dire” was in operation.

A voir dire normally occurs when a judge seeks to determine an issue in the course of a trial rather than in advance of one, and very rarely applies at District Court level. Journalists may witness proceedings but not report the details.

Direction

Questioned later, however, the press office said: “The court garda cleared the court as requested by the judge”, and that “it is understood that members of the media who so arrived after that point were inadvertently prevented from accessing the courtroom”.

The Courts Service on Friday said: “At no stage did Judge O’Shea or Courts Service officials issue a direction that the case should be held otherwise than in public”.

“The court sitting at Dungarvan District Court on Wednesday, October 13th, was a public hearing. It involved the hearing of certain arguments in a case, before the ‘substantive’ matter might be heard at another time,” the spokesman said.

“In the absence of an order the law requires that the proceedings take place in public: we are committed to that principle. The alleged actions of gardaí in not allowing access to some media is a matter for Garda management.

“These issues have been raised with Garda management,” said the Courts Service, which is understood to have checked its own records carefully ahead of making its public statement.

When the case came to court on September 22nd, solicitor Paddy Gordon, acting for defence solicitor Frank Buttimer, questioned the legitimacy of statements presented by An Garda Síochána. Mr Gordon claimed they were “not our statements and we want them examined forensically”.

Deferring the matter to the October 13th sitting of Dungarvan District Court, Judge O’Shea instructed that investigating Garda Tom Daly be present, along with his notebook and all original statements.

The judge also asked that Tramore District Superintendent Paul O’Driscoll attend the hearing, which would commence at 10am prior to the main court business.

Candidate

Mr Hartley unsuccessfully contested the 2014 European elections as Fianna Fáil’s Ireland South candidate. He resigned from the party acrimoniously in 2018 following his criticism of its handling of matters related to convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally, whose cousin Brendan was a former Fianna Fáil junior minister.

Judge O’Shea did not issue a written verdict on the present case against Mr Hartley, but it is understood the Garda testaments will stand as presented when it is heard.

Mr Buttimer said he was “not in a position to comment at present”.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Martin Kenny said it was “highly unusual” and that he would be writing to Garda headquarters seeking an explanation. “Justice has to be seen to be done as well as being done, and I find it quite alarming that we’d be in this situation.”

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Darlington is cheapest for homes, London’s Kensington most expensive

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We all know about the North-South divide. We all know about the Prime Minister’s attempt at ‘levelling up’. We all know about the crumbling Red Wall.

But when it comes to property, the facts of the matter tell their own story. According to Churchill Home Insurance, Darlington in County Durham is the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot.

Which is staggering when you compare it to the most expensive — Kensington in central London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721. 

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham - the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham – the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Music giants Robbie Williams and Eric Clapton have homes in this exclusive royal borough home, as do entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.

But here’s the twist: anyone looking to take advantage of Darlington’s prices might have to move fast because there are plans to turn this market town into the hottest property in the north.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is opening up a smart new division of the Treasury there over the next five years, moving about a quarter of the department. 

That’s about 400 people, many of whom will be local recruits. ‘We’re giving talented people in the North-East the opportunity to work in the heart of Government, making decisions on important issues for our country,’ explains Sunak.

So what are the draws of these polar-opposite locations?

Kensington is one of the crown jewels of London neighbourhoods featuring not just top museums but also a host of chic cafes, boutique shops, and even Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their children.

There are three Zone 1 underground stations and several independent schools, and you’re a stroll away from the West End. 

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Top restaurants include Daphne’s and Launceston Place — both favourites of the late Princess Diana — and the iconic Bibendum with two Michelin stars.

There’s no surprises when it comes to property values in this area; they’re stellar. The cheapest property in Kensington for sale on Rightmove in the middle of October was priced at £40,000 and that was just a space in a car park. 

The most expensive listing, by contrast, was a seven- bedroom semi, with an eye-watering asking price of £30 million.

Of just over 510 property sales in the past year, the average price was a slightly more modest £2,169,235, according to Zoopla, but that’s after prices took a 4 per cent knock as fewer people bought in London during the pandemic.

It’s a different story in Darlington, which has a modest average property price of £172,724, according to Zoopla. 

But things are changing; there have been more than 1,600 property sales in the past 12 months and prices have gently risen 4.5 per cent. The most expensive home on sale is a four-bedroom detached house with grounds, for £700,000.

However that’s still an exception, with many more at the other end of the scale, where there are several two-bedroom terrace houses for sale at £45,000.

If you’re moving in, bone up on railway history — the world’s first steam train service began here almost 200 years ago. 

Otherwise, look out for a twice-weekly street market, the revamped Hippodrome theatre and the odd tribute to comic Vic Reeves and businessman Duncan Bannatyne, both brought up in the town.

Darlington is brimming with well-preserved Victorian buildings while you can stroll in the beautiful South Park. If you’re after the best of local food, the two-Michelin starred Raby Hunt Restaurant is the place to go.

The town has the buzz of a place on the move — there are modernisations under way at both the railway station (2 ½ hours to London, 30 minutes to Newcastle) and the indoor market.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s Treasury initiative is already putting Darlington on the map. ‘I know of several people from London who have moved here thanks to working remotely,’ says estate agent Henry Carver of Carver Residential. 

On the market: North-South divide 

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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

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Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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