'Over-valuers' Blamed for Moribund W4 Property Market

Flat sales collapse but a trio of Bedford Park homes go for over £3million

House on Woodstock Road sells for £3,440,000. Picture: Google Streetview

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The latest data release shows a continuing grim overall picture for activity in the Chiswick property market with just 86 sales reported in the third quarter of the year.

The situation is even bleaker for flats which normally make up the majority of sales in the area but the number of transactions in this kind of home was just 37 in the three months, close to an historic low.

Sales volumes are down across London but seem to be particularly badly hit in Chiswick. Factors such as political and economic uncertainty are partly to blame but the finger is also being pointed at the systematic over-valuation of property by some agents. This, their rivals say, has made the market particularly difficult in W4 as over-optimistic price targets have meant that sellers are reluctant to accept reasonable offers.

Paul Cooney, Director of Horton and Garton said, “The average estate agent will blame various factors outside of their control, but the elephant in the room is inaccurate asking prices; many local agents simply aren’t advising their sellers correctly. The right advice from day one has a significant, quantifiable impact on your home’s sale price. Inflated asking prices can result in a no-sale scenario or, arguably worse, a home achieving less than its true value.

"The worst ‘over-valuer’ in Chiswick has reduced their listings by an average of just under 16% which represents a reduction in price of a £1.1million home to under £925,000. This is the unsurprising reality of why many of the outstanding W4 homes that came to the open market in 2019 haven’t sold."

The point is echoed by Christian Harper of Harper Finn who says, "A high percentage of agents are still overvaluing property to simply win instructions. This is providing sellers with false expectations which simply aren’t materialising. Yes, it's nice to win instructions however now is the time to provide accurate advice. Never, in my close to thirty years of Chiswick experience have I seen more need for expert advice to actually achieve a sale.

"Marketing property has become generic in terms of finding buyers, close to 100% of buyers search on Rightmove, Zoopla and ChiswickW4.com so its not about attracting the buyers, it's all about what you say to them to reassure them that now is the right time to commit to a purchase despite the general doom and gloom."

The problem seems to be most acute for smaller properties. Over half the sales in Chiswick during the third quarter were for over a million and larger family houses continue to turn over at the same kind of rate they did in more favourable times for the market. Three homes in Bedford Park within a short walk of each other were sold during the period for over £3 million including a house on Woodstock Road that changed hands for £3,440,000.

James Waight, Associate Director, at John D Wood on Turnham Green Terrace explains this by saying, "Despite the political paralysis and lower transaction levels, properties in Chiswick remain highly sought after. After receiving multiple bids we recently sold a house on Beverley Road achieving 98% of the asking price and exchanging contracts in under four weeks. We agreed the sale of a house on Kent Road in less than three weeks of marketing achieving 95% of the asking price. This highlights the main challenge we currently face which is the lack of available properties to sell. "

The Land Registry numbers seem to indicate a strong market with the average price in Chiswick rising by 26.6% over the last year to £1,104,819. However this rise is almost entirely driven by the type of property that is being sold rather than a general rise in prices. The sharp decline in the number of flats changing hands alongside the more sustained activity for family houses is creating the illusion of rising values.

Paul Cooney explains this by saying, “The profiles of the average house buyer and flat buyer will be worlds apart. There is insatiable appetite for houses in Chiswick as families outgrow their first homes, but for flat buyers they traditionally have far fewer immediate pressures and are able to take their time about choosing their home. To successfully sell your flat in what is undoubtedly an increasingly competitive market, your home needs to be dressed to perfection and a great deal of effort should go into the photography and marketing particulars. Combined with precision pricing and a strategic launch in advance of one of the waves of buyer activity (and a good estate agent should know when a wave is coming), this should help position your property ahead of the curve.”

He adds, "I would advise against bringing your home to the open market in the darkest heart of winter whereas some estate agents would be pushing you to sign on the dotted line so they can hit their end-of-year listings targets… it’s hardly a considered approach! We know the natural ebbs and flows in the W4 property market; the spring wave is coming and we know when it is forecast to hit. Advising our clients correctly on how and when to catch the wave has certainly played a part in our sales success; cherry picking the best weeks in the year to bring your property to the market can make the difference between your home selling and achieving its maximum value or falling flat."

Christian Harper makes a similar point in commenting, "Whilst the latest figures come as no surprise the most alarming figure to me is the 57.6% downturn in factual volumes of transactions in the past five years. Why has this happened? I believe that it is a combination of sellers that are not upsizing or making future purchases that are simply not prepared to accept current market values and are choosing to retain property until the grass is greener combined with the remaining potential sellers continuing to receive poor advice from estate agents."

He concludes, "Glossy brochures, shiny suits and high street shops just aren’t going to help. Experience and professionalism are the only ingredients that truly matter in a difficult market."

Property for sale in Chiswick

The Land Registry House Price Index for August 2019 shows that overall prices were down by 1.4% in London which made it the worse performing area in the UK. For the country as a whole the average price rose by 1.3% to £234,853.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) August 2019 UK Residential Market Survey reported a flat trend in demand (new buyer enquiries) at the national level, following a few months in which enquiries had increased modestly. Newly agreed sales moved slightly further into negative territory. Alongside this, new instructions to sell were broadly unchanged for the third successive report.

The Bank of England’s Agents‘ summary of business conditions – 2019 Q3 reported that the housing market continued to soften, reflecting deteriorating supply and demand. Estate agents reported softer demand in the secondary market, though demand for lower-priced properties was more resilient.

The UK Property Transactions Statistics for August 2019 showed that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the estimated number of transactions on residential properties with a value of £40,000 or greater was 99,890. This is 0.9% higher than a year ago. Between July 2019 and August 2019, transactions increased by 15.8%.

The Bank of England’s Money and Credit release reported that mortgage approvals for house purchase (an indicator of future lending) decreased in August 2019 to 65,500. This is down from the previous peak seen in July 2019 of 67,000 but remained within the narrow range seen over the past 3 years.

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ChiswickW4.com is the only place that you will find detailed analysis of the Chiswick property.

Chiswick Property Prices - (July - September 2019)
Area Detached Sales Semi-
Sales Terraced Sales Flats/
Sales Overall Ave Total Sales
W4 1 3237500 2 1655000 5 1544844 8 685500 9 1386594 24
W4 2 0 0 1208850 3 1176861 9 669333 6 1013017 18
W4 3 0 0 1600000 1 1008333 3 513775 9 711460 13
W4 4 0 0 1845400 5 0 0 456707 7 1035329 12
W4 5 1700000 1 1515000 3 1294333 9 655833 6 1148895 19
Total 2725000 3 1604326 17 1297397 29 593011 37 1104819 86
Change in Quarter -8.6% 50.0% -6.4% 41.7% 13.0% -3.3% 16.2% -28.8% 21.2% -10.4%
Change in year -11.9% 0.0% -2.1% 30.8% 15.1% -35.6% 3.3% -60.6% 26.6% -44.5%
Change in three years -16.3% -25.0% -15.8% 142.9% -1.4% -12.1% -1.4% -41.3% 9.8% -19.6%
Change in five years -19.8% -66.7% -6.5% -29.2% 11.9% -54.7% 8.8% -65.1% 10.1% -57.6%
Change in ten years 49.7% -25.0% 49.3% -39.3% 93.1% -47.3% 71.4% -57.0% 83.7% -50.3%


Roughly speaking the post code sector areas are as follows:

1 - Bedford Park and the north side of the High Road

2 - The south side of the eastern end of the High Rd down to the river at Corney Reach

3 - The Grove Park area and over to Strand on the Green

4 - The west of Chiswick between the A4 and Chiswick High Rd - (a high concentration of flats)

5 - The north west of Chiswick - Acton Green mainly

November 2, 2019

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