AFFLUENT suburbs of Sheffield are bucking the trend, with a buoyant housing market and steady prices.
The latest RICS survey indicates that sales in the Yorkshire region are almost 50% down on what they were five years ago at the peak of the property boom.
But city estate agents say that’s not the case in the south-west of Sheffield, from Crosspool through Dore and Totley to Ecclesall.
“You wouldn’t think there were housing market problems in those areas – things are selling and prices haven’t fallen,” said Paul Cocker, a partner with Blundells. “In fact we’re back up to where we were in 2007 in most cases: a standard three-bedroom semi in Greystones, or a terrace in Banner Cross.”
The south-east, including Mosborough and Crystal Peaks, is weathering the storm but it’s a different story in the north-east of Sheffield. There, prices have fallen by as much as 30% in five years and properties are taking longer to sell – in line with the region in general.
“It’s down to affluence at the end of the day. People in those areas don’t have access to the funds you need to get a mortgage,” said Mr Cocker.
The banks’ insistence on a deposit of up to 20% means first-time buyers must save around £20,000 before they can buy a home. “That’s totally and utterly what it’s down to – not jobs or the economy.”
Jo Sheppard, of Bloor & Co, agreed. “It’s definitely the banks that are the problem. They’re being very cautious about lending which means potential buyers are being refused, maybe because they once missed a mortgage payment.”
One Sheffield buyer was downsizing and wanted to swap his £175,000 mortgage for one of £90,000. But a past blip in payments prompted the lender to raise charges from 2% to 5% – meaning the buyer would end up paying the same amount for a smaller property – so he decided to rent instead.
Such stories are having an impact on the shape of Sheffield’s property market. Where once most people bought their own homes, that is gradually changing.
“It’s a vicious circle,” said Ms Sheppard. “People can’t afford these big deposits and once they get into rented accommodation it’s hard to pay the rent and save for a house. We know of quite a few cases where first-time buyers are moving back in with their parents so they can save.”
She predicted the trend would continue. “In future people will rent rather than buy – and it won’t have the stigma that it once had.”
Mr Cocker added: “We could lose a complete generation. Who knows know long it’s going to take to solve but it’s not going to change overnight.”
Chartered surveyors expect sales to remain stable over the coming three months but prices are not expected to pick up again for some time.
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