Vibrant, buzzing London is in a state of perpetual change, a place where buildings come up and down, homes are extended outwards, upwards and downwards, and property is so costly that everyone’s on a mission to find or create the perfect space. It’s a landscape we love. Helping people achieve their dreams within it makes everything we do worthwhile, and part of that means keeping our fingers on the pulse. Here’s the news.
Why are British properties taking longer to sell?
A recent RICS survey revealed UK properties are taking longer to sell than they did a year ago. In 2017 it averaged 16 weeks, now it’s 18 weeks. At the same time The Halifax says prices are rising more slowly than any time since 2013, and an interest rise is in the air. There appears to be fewer properties to rent, and changes to tax, buy-to-let and second home ownership have all had an impact. And there’s Brexit, with all its uncertainties. In times like this it’s vital to get the surveying elements of a building project sorted out early, done right the first time, signed off and complete so there’s no time or money wasted. That’s what RICS Surveyors help people like you do.
The magical mysteries below London’s basement developments
You can’t build up. You can’t go sideways. The only way is… down! That’s why London’s basement development scene is so lively, with wealthy property owners creating subterranean playrooms and pools, gyms and cinemas. But what lies beneath this frenzy of change? As it turns out, some very interesting things indeed.
London is at least two thousand years old. The Thames used to wind through the landscape like any river, changing direction, twisting and turning, leaving alluvial land behind, which ancient people farmed. There are signs of their long-ago lives in the earth beneath our streets. The Romans left evidence of their stay across the city. London has several ‘lost’ rivers; the Tyburn, the Fleet, Stamford Brook, Hackney Brook, plenty more. Some have vanished under concrete, some still flow far beneath the surface, others still pour into the Thames. And there’s an amazing rail line under the city, below the tube network, that used to carry mail. It’s just two feet wide, 610mm, and carried narrow gauge driverless trains full of post between sorting offices. It was in operation from 1927 until 2003. Add the city’s many plague pits full of poor souls who died from Bubonic plague, and the underbelly of our capital really is quite extraordinary.
It’s official – ‘down valuations’ are a myth
There’s been a lot of talk about down valuations, where surveyors supposedly undervalue properties, following a sharp rise in cases where property has been valued at less than buyers have agreed to pay. It matters because buyers who can’t persuade sellers to lower their prices – typically by £10,000 – often jump ship.
RICS says its surveyors are simply doing their job, and in our experience they’re right. Surveyors like us base market value on hard evidence, comparing usually at least three similar sales. We also harness years of experience in the property market to hone our valuations as well as using intimate local market knowledge and taking supply and demand into account. Because of all this, the market value doesn’t always meet sellers’ and estate agents’ expectations. Perhaps it’s also because prices are not going up as fast as everyone is used to, no longer the regular rises we’ve been seeing for years and years.
When house prices are falling or rising faster than usual, we have to make sure we have evidence for our decisions, and we’re absolutely scrupulous about that. We always abide by the best practice valuation guidelines in RICS’ Red Book, too.
We wish you a smooth, successful project, whether you’re buying or developing. If you need help with the surveying aspects, we’ll be delighted to help.