Seasonal adjustment welcome
Thursday 7th March 2013, 5:00PM GMT.
Regular contributor Trevor Cooper considers the new-season vigour injected into the housing market…
SPRING breathes new life into the housing market and is welcomed by estate agents as much as house hunters and sellers.
Of course, it is possible for Guernsey to see snow falling in March and even April – and austere economic conditions have made us all tread more carefully as if walking on ice. Nevertheless, this new season provokes an inherent urge in people to move house, driven by the advent of change and the promise of new life. And some of you thought it was just the lighter evenings that did it.
New vigour in the housing market is often stimulated by plenty of new instructions, where properties are offered for sale for the first time. It remains to be seen what happens this year, however, in the light of the decline in the number of house sales during last year.
Early signs suggest it will pick up, with most estate agents reporting more properties having gone under offer during January and February than throughout the closing months of 2012. There has also been a significant increase in the number of valuations conducted by estate agents. This is usually an early indication of the houses soon to appear on the market.
Every additional property is competition for those already on the market but, by my calculation, an average of 82 Guernsey properties were sold every month last year. It might have been fewer than in previous years, but that is still a high level of activity and steady replenishment is needed to meet this demand.
A browse through estate agents’ websites shows an interesting cross-section of recent listings.
Flats converted from one of the former Gabriel’s shops in Fountain Street are nearing completion. I remember Mr Gabriel, tape measure around his neck, darting from one shop to the other, but I cannot remember what was stocked in number 36.
The upper floors are now three stylish flats, two of which are available for £230,000 each. They both have a double bedroom at the back and a living room at the front, including one wall fitted with attractive kitchen units concealing a host of appliances. In between these rooms is an extremely smart, fully-tiled shower room. Both flats also share access to their own tiered rear garden – similar to a patio and gravelled for easy maintenance.
Houses within a stroll of a beach will always command interest and it was originally to entice holidaymakers that the Pine Trees development was built with Grand Havre Bay on its doorstep.
Since their change to permanent residential units many of the chalets and bungalows have been modernised, extended and generally improved. Such is the case with Vida Feliz, a semi-detached chalet bungalow that has come onto the market at £390,000.
An effective loft conversion has added a large bedroom and dressing room accessed from stairs in what is now a dining room opened to the lounge. There is another bedroom and modern bathroom on the ground floor and an arch in the lounge leading to a well-fitted galley kitchen. An enclosed rear garden has a sunny aspect and there is parking for four cars at the side.
The benefit of properties looking their best cannot be overstated. Prospective buyers are excited about viewing any property and most will already have a mental image of what they hope to see before stepping inside. No property is perfect in any house hunter’s eyes, but a well-presented property will entice buyers to compromise if they have to.
Yew Tree House is truly immaculate and for £485,000 it offers a large lounge/diner and a kitchen with a breakfast area and large utility room next to an integral garage. There is also a separate WC while upstairs there is a bathroom and three generous-size bedrooms.
The property is well placed on a quiet corner of Clos de Mon Plaisir, which itself is conveniently located off Courtil St Jacques in St Peter Port. The rear garden is predominantly south and west facing and is a good size, being a corner plot.
Family houses with comfortable granny-wing accommodation are often sought after. To offer one in tip-top order close to the amenities in St Martin’s parish centre is quite special. Such is Grasmere in Les Vaurioufs, near Carmel, which is on the market at £895,000.
There is a solid, dependable attractiveness about Grasmere and a comprehensive range of accommodation including – in addition to the one-bedroom wing – two large reception rooms at the front, a dining room behind and modern kitchen large enough to eat in that also leads to a stylish conservatory.
There is a separate WC downstairs and four-piece bathroom serving three double bedrooms on the first floor, plus a study over the front door.
The large rear garden is delightful and there is ample parking in front with space for more.
Moving back across to the west coast, Les Cherfs Estate near Cobo is a surprise to many, and not only in how to find it. The development of 30 spacious houses was built between 1963 and 1970 on generous-sized plots both sides of a wide estate road.
The exotically named Coco de Mer is on the market for £575,000 and is a semi-detached house well placed on the southern side, so the rear garden has a sunny aspect and a neighbouring field expanding the sense of space. The property has been well maintained and although it appears dated in many respects, there is a demand for structurally sound houses that deserve a television-style makeover. Other houses on Les Cherfs Estate have already been extended to good effect, so Coco de Mer has plenty of scope for improvement, which is another good feature in the property market.
The essence of this look at recent additions to the market is that all properties, wherever they are and whatever their price, have individual qualities that deserve to be looked at closely. It’s tempting to judge a property merely by driving past, but house hunters potentially do so at their cost.
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