Dwindling numbers of property buying agents? Not in West Sussex!

West Sussex bucks the London trend
Reports by the FT that the number of London buying agents registered with The Property Ombudsman is diminishing comes as no surprise. The ongoing shortage of properties at the top end of the market and a faltering London market sends the search agents, who set up business tempted by TV stories of quick returns, scurrying for easier pickings. They may just be heading to West Sussex, as Jennie Hancock explains:
"Increasing numbers of people are leaving the City to take advantage of a more attractive rural lifestyle which easily outweighs the longer commuting times . New buying agents in West Sussex are essentially driven by the same motivations and view setting up in property acquisitions as a viable career alternative offering a more appealing lifestyle. Buyers would therefore do well to scrutinise the credentials of any search agent."

Buyers Beware
Homebuyers employing the services of a buying agent do so for 3 principle reasons: firstly they don’t know the market in their target location well enough to secure the best property at the optimum price; secondly they don’t have the time to sort the wheat from the chaff, which even with the tightest of briefs to an estate agent is a time consuming but necessary first stage of the home search process. Lastly and by far the most important reason for engaging a search agent is the golden egg scenario where the buying agent secures them a premium property before it is openly marketed.

Only an experienced buying agent with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the property market in the target area and excellent relationships with both local estate agents and property developers can really deliver all 3.

Experienced Search agents prove their mettle in tough market conditions
The ongoing shortage of good properties particularly at the premium end of the market has highlighted the role of buying agents. Why entrust your search to an estate agent whose business model is based on achieving the highest price for sellers with the minimum effort? Every snippet of information about your budget, motivation and commitment is passed straight back to the seller. It is akin to revealing your hand in a game of high stakes poker. An experienced search agent will move heaven and earth to secure your dream property and often negotiate a saving which more than covers their search fee.

Jennie Hancock explains, “No-one should assume a search is easy money. The most experienced of agents can only work with the current availability and clients’ increasingly narrow specifications can mean months of searching to find the perfect match. Even then there is no guarantee of a fee as buyers are easily spooked and can pull out of a sale at the 11th hour for the most spurious of reasons."

For an informal chat about property purchases in West Sussex please contact Property Acquisitions on .

Source: Buying agents dwindle as London’s prime property market cools, FT 4th March 2016


Prospects for the upper end of the West Sussex property market in 2016

With the New Year in full swing and the resolutions being regretted and rapidly forgotten, now is a good time to reassess the impact of the Chancellor’s surprise increase in stamp duty on buy-to-let properties and second homes in the Autumn statement.

Property prices dominated the headlines for much of 2015 and I think that trend is likely to continue this year as the government tries to grapple with the politically sensitive issue of rising prices making it ever more difficult for first time buyers to get onto the property ladder. Whilst the slowdown (and in some cases contraction) of prices in the top end of London property has been well documented, the likely impact of the Chancellor’s hikes in stamp duty announced recently is less clear. In a recent survey conducted by the FT, none of the 88 economists who responded to the question of where they saw property prices going in 2016 foresaw a general fall in prices — indeed 54 said current policies would either have little impact, or would only succeed in increasing demand.

What I think is, without a doubt there will be short-term increase in demand as buyers push to complete ahead of the implementation of the new measures in April. Post April I would expect prices to adjust to reflect this new level of duty, with the additional costs ending up being split between vendors and buyers in the short term. Over the medium to longer term, however, I think that the fundamental imbalance of supply and demand will not be resolved by these new measures and therefore we are likely to see prices continuing to rise, albeit not at the headline grabbing rates we have seen over the last few years.

It has always been a truism that the right properties will command a premium, and the areas around Chichester and further afield in West Sussex and Hampshire certainly have more than their fair share of these. The lure of a coastal life style set against the backdrop of the Downs remains as strong as ever, and changes in the way that we live and work mean that many who wouldn’t have considered a move to West Sussex before retirement, now see it as an increasingly viable move to try and redress the work/life imbalance.

Better access to broadband in rural areas means that working from home becomes an easier option to break up the daily commute and to extend the time spent in the country. Indeed the government recently announced a plan to introduce a “universal service obligation” for broadband, giving the public a legal right to request an affordable high speed connection from their ISP. I suppose it remains to be seen exactly what “affordable” means though!

One thing remains certain, however, and that is the importance of staying close to the market and ahead of the competition. Industry reports are still quoting ten buyers for every property on the market. If you are looking to complete on a home in Chichester or the West Sussex County before the April stamp duty changes, please call me, Jennie Hancock, to discuss your property search on 01243 531133 or email me on .

Property West Sussex

With demand still outstripping supply, the importance of a good buying agent has never been greater

Recently published data indicates that there are 11 buyers out there chasing each property for sale as the pent up demand that built pre the election continues to drive the market. This is especially true at the top end of the market where the “London influence” has seen strong demand from buyers taking advantage of the uplift in the capital’s prices and chasing that rural dream.

Give yourself an edge
With this in mind it is worth looking at the services of a specialist who can find you those all-important “must haves” and put you ahead of the crowd at the same time. Buyers these days are expecting more from their houses and whether it be a man cave, a wine cellar or a swimming pool, excellent local knowledge can make all the difference.

As Jennie Hancock is quick to point out it is not just about maintaining strong relationships with the estate agents that helps her find the right house. Buying agents tend to be more proactive in their searches and it is not unknown for Jennie to write a letter to the owner of a property if she knows it will appeal to her buyers. It might not have occurred to the owner to sell, but creating opportunities is the name of the game.

So what is a man cave then?
Well in the good old days most people’s ideas of a man cave would have been a shed at the bottom of the garden, but now many buyers are looking for a dedicated room for all those boys toys, from the large screen multi media set up, to somewhere to admire those vintage cars they scooped up at Goodwood. The same is true of the wine cellar - no longer a fusty old room where you tuck the wine away, many buyers now look for a bright temperature controlled room where they can bring their friends to show off their collection.

The key for a good buying agent is in getting to know their clients likes and dislikes, even when the clients themselves may not be exactly sure what those preferences are. Frequently the picture builds over a number of viewings and it is down to listening carefully to their reactions and teasing out what they want. The right house is out there, but it may take some expert help to find it for you.

If you are struggling to find your dream home in Sussex, call Jennie on 01243 531133 or email her at

Property Acquisitions buying agent

“Escape to the Country”: increasing numbers of working professionals seek rural retreats in West Sussex

According to government figures, rural areas of the UK are witnessing “inward migration” of more than 60,000 a year with the majority of those coming from urban areas within the UK. The UK is the only developed economy in the world seeing the ‘urban to rural’ trend rather than the usual migration towards cities.

This escape to the country is being driven not only by those factors we are already aware of: a desire for more space with growing families or couples in retirement preferring a quieter lifestyle. However there is another socio-economic group migrating away from the cities - upwardly mobile professionals, who are able to benefit from improvements in rural infrastructure and in particular, information technology so that a career in the countryside is now a real option.

The government data for West Sussex supports this trend. According to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), who classify West Sussex as ‘significantly rural’, over 40% of the county’s resident population and over half its businesses are located in rural areas.

The total population for West Sussex is predicted to reach 953,277 people in 2033, an increase of 146,377 (18%) people on the 2011 census population; the fastest growing geo-demographic group are ‘Successful professionals living in suburban or semi-rural homes’, who now account for 13.13% of households in West Sussex.

According to George Osborne, the improvements in rural information technology has resulted in economic diversity in many rural areas, enabling people to take advantage of a high quality of life in attractive surroundings.

Jennie Hancock of Property Acquisitions agrees with the reports. “While we are still seeing the familiar client demographic of London families moving to West Sussex, what has changed is the ability of the major breadwinner to live full time in the county. Previously it was a choice of the dreaded Monday to Friday London commute or renting a flat in the City during the week. Increasingly we are finding that prospective buyers are asking about broadband speeds, and with ever more data being streamed down the wires, the need for rural broadband speeds rivalling those of our towns and cities has never been greater.”

For advice on the best village locations for rural broadband, please call Jennie on 01243 531133 or email her at


Inheritance Tax Changes benefit 1200 homeowners in West Sussex

George Osborne’s 2015 Budget changes to the Inheritance Tax Threshold benefit 1200 homeowners with property for sale in West Sussex.

Due to rising house prices in recent years, increasing numbers of middle-class homeowners in London and the South East have been affected by Inheritance Tax. It is estimated that the number of properties qualifying for IHT had increased by 50% over the last 5 years. The new thresholds are thought to withdraw 20,000 properties nationwide from Inheritance Tax liability and that number could double over the next 5 years.

Figures reported by the Telegraph in 2014 revealed that the ten places where the most inheritance tax had been paid out were all in London and the South. Areas worst affected are those where a significant percentage of property wealth is owned by the over-65s and the report named Chichester in West Sussex as the area second most affected by IHT due to an ageing, less transient population, which owns 50% of the area’s housing wealth.

According to property price data* for West Sussex in July 2015, the change in Inheritance Tax liability will immediately benefit almost 1200 properties, representing 21% of the total 5700 currently listed for sale between £500,000 and £1m in West Sussex.

Couples who downsize in later years will also be eligible for an inheritance tax credit as long as the majority of the estate is left to children. This will enable pensioners to free up larger houses for younger growing families.

Jennie Hancock of Property Acquisitions in Chichester welcomes the changes as a boost for older homeowners worried about Inheritance Tax liability and looking to downsize. For expert advice on property values in the Chichester area, please call Jennie on 01243 531133 or email her at


Changes to the Inheritance Tax Threshold (IHT) explained

On July 8th Chancellor George Osborne announced an increase in the inheritance tax threshold to £1m for married couples and civil partners, who leave their home to children or grandchildren. This translates to a significant £140,000 tax saving on estates worth between £500k and £2m.

Previously, individuals could pass on a maximum of £325,000 and married couples a combined amount of £650,000, the threshold set since 2009, without incurring Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Any amount over the main residence thresholds incurs IHT at 40%. Chancellor George Osborne announced a phased annual increase starting with an additional £100,000 in 2017 to allow married couples and civil partners a £1million tax-free allowance by 2020.

The additional allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 for properties worth more than £2million. The additional nil-rate band will only be transferable on death and can be transferred between partners on the first death. It can only be used on assets, which include the family home or main residence.

Inheritance Tax Changes

The cost of buying in the South Downs National Park.

The cost of buying in the South Downs National Park is second only to the New Forest in The Telegraph’s recent survey of average house prices in the UK’s top national parks. A South Downs home will cost on average £392k, compared with £451k in the New Forest and £475k in London, according to latest Land Registry figures. Not only are house prices in the South Downs National Park competing with London house price levels, but are also significantly higher than the West Sussex county average.

The article also highlights the higher prices in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are 46 areas of natural beauty in Britain, compared with 13 national parks, which tend to be larger and have tighter planning restrictions. Buyers are attracted to properties in both AONBs and National Parks, because they know that the beautiful views they aspire to, are unlikely to be ruined by future development.

Chichester Harbour is one the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in Southern England. Perfect sailing waters combined with sandy beaches and uninterrupted views of the Solent, The South Downs and the Isle of Wight, make it a popular second home destination for those looking to escape London life at weekends.

Restrictions on building in the national parks and the AONB creates a permanent lack of supply. This common problem combined with an increase in demand for country properties makes the search process even more competitive for those house buyers searching for their perfect countryside idyll.

For expert advice on buying homes in the South Downs National Park or the Chichester Harbour AONB, please call Jennie Hancock on 01243 531133 or email her at

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Stamp duty overhaul - how will it affect you?

George Osborne cuts stamp duty for 98pc of home buyers in his final Autumn Statement before the general election. The Chancellor has announced sweeping reform to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), disgarding the "badly designed" slab tax, and delivering savings for 98pc of home buyers.

Residential Property Focus

Residential Property Focus