Local residents buying open market properties

LOCALLY-QUALIFIED residents are buying open market properties due to a shortage of homes on the local market.

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The news comes as estate agents predict that the island’s property markets are likely to stay strong this year.

Pent-up demand has reportedly led to some of the busiest conditions agents have seen in years.

The open market makes up only about 6% of the 27,000 residential properties in Guernsey, but open market sales made up about 11% of property transactions last year.

Savill’s head of residential sales Keith Enevoldsen said a shortage of local market properties had led to many open market sales below £1.5m. going to locally-qualified people.

The demand saw a shortage of properties to sell in the latter part of last year but the local market was still active, despite sales having tailed off since the summer, with prices remaining stable due to the lack of stock.

‘The open market, meanwhile, is the busiest we’ve seen in 15 years,’ said Mr Enevoldsen.

That has partly been driven by pent-up demand because people were not able to get to the island during a large part of 2020.

There were 36 open market transactions in the third quarter of 2021, with a median price of £1,345,500, compared with £1,222,250 and 20 transactions in the third quarter of 2020.

Sales of open market property to locally-qualified residents have freed up local market homes for those looking to upsize, he said.

‘We expect demand in both the open and local markets to remain strong into 2022.

‘We’re very much in a sellers’ market at the moment, but setting an ambitious yet realistic asking price from the start will be key to maintaining momentum.’

Cooper Brouard open market negotiator James Starkey echoed Mr Enevoldsen’s comments.

‘Market conditions remain strong with a steady stream of applicants coming to the island. Many are looking ahead of the April tax deadline and we are expecting to see another increase in activity then.’

Mr Starkey made 15 of the company’s open market sales last year and has four more ready to complete early in 2022.

The estate agent had also seen more locally qualified people buying open market properties.

‘At the moment there is demand across the board but the area that is in most in need of good quality stock is between £1.5m. and £3m.,’ he said, although there were also serious enquiries in even the highest price brackets.

Despite the pandemic, he said, house hunters were still willing and able to travel to the island to complete the sale process, while initial viewings are taking place via online video.

‘Last year was an extraordinary year for the Guernsey property market, particularly the Open Market which saw a 30% rise in transactions compared to 2020 and continues to demonstrate Guernsey’s attractiveness as a destination for new residents,’ said he head of Carey Olsen’s property group in Guernsey, Jason Morgan.

However, local market activity slowed ‘ever so slightly’ in the latter part of the year: ‘What now may be the case is that fewer people are looking to move home, having only recently purchased, which in turn, may have impacted the number of available properties,’ he said.

As the year progresses, this could be a trend to watch.

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