Brexit uncertainty hits Lavenham ‘des res’ house sales
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Uncertainty over Brexit is taking its toll on sales of niche homes in Lavenham, leading independent estate agent Tim West of Sworders has said.
Mr West said sales of properties in Lavenham usually bought as second or retirement homes, or as buy-to-lets, by wealthy incomers had slowed dramatically as investors waited to see what would happen amid Britain's impending departure from the European Union.
Lavenham is a picturesque village renowned for its period buildings and Mr West described it as "a niche market" for wealthy buyers typically coming from the M11 and A12 corridors of Hertfordshire and Essex.
He said Brexit had proved "a massive factor" in the housing market, nationally and locally, but in the case of Lavenham it was more pronounced because of its popularity.
"It's the kind of place that people move to for second homes, holiday homes and the active retired," he said.
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"It's popular with the retired and second homers because of the facilities here - it has a wealth of shops, pubs and eateries.
"There's a good stock of ordinary domestic housing that the niche buyers aren't interested in, for example your three bed ex-council semi such as you would see in Sudbury or Long Melford.
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"But a Victorian terrace that would normally go for around £265,000 or £275,000 is now going for £225,000 to £235,000 - at the moment we are relying on people who just want to buy a home to live in.
"In the last 12 months we've had a 50% hit rate. Normally we would expect to sell two thirds of the houses we take on."
However Mr West said he was confident that once Brexit was resolved things would improve: "Whichever way it is resolved, one way or the other I think the market will bounce. Every downturn is usually followed by an upturn."
Mr West also confirmed his company had sold its Toll Cottage offices Lavenham town centre - its home since 2001 - and would re-open in a new branch in the High Street in the New Year.
He said the office had been bought by a local person who intended to turn it into an antique shop.
"The asking price was in the region of £350,000 and I was made a very good offer," he said.
"The plan was always to sell the building and move to the High Street but I've put it on hold until the spring because the market is generally so poor."