Cumbria housing market buoyant amid fears of Brexit downturn

CLAIMS the UK’s housing market is on its knees have been dismissed as ‘wild generalisation’ by one of Cumbria’s leading property experts.

Figures released last week point to a national slowdown in properties being listed for sale, while prices in February rose by just 0.4 per cent year on year.

But claims of a Brexit-fuelled slump in the market have been dismissed by Nick Miller, who says the property sector in Cumbria is strong.

Market insight: Nick Miller with wife and business partner Helen

The businessman, who operates two Fine and Country agencies out of Carlisle and Penrith, said the last two years had been his best ever.

And he lamented a south-centric bias when it comes to housing market analysis and projections: “What we are being presented with are figures which take account of the UK as a whole, and are particularly influenced by the London property bubble,” he said.

“A real picture of doom and gloom is being painted, and Brexit is in the firing line when it comes to the reasons why. However, that simply is not the case in Cumbria.

“Of course there have been variations in the market over the last couple of years and there was a brief period when we experienced a drop in activity. However the recovery has been strong and as a county, Cumbria is enjoying a very stable market.”

Nick pointed to figures from the Land Registry’s House Price Index (HPI) to support his view.

The latest statistics on the HPI for London from the point when the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, to Dec 2018, show it rose marginally from 116.2 to 117.6 - an increase of 0.92 per cent.

However, the picture in Cumbria was far more buoyant according to the index, with the figures for the same period rising from 103.0 to 111.5 respectively. An increase of 8.25 per cent.

Nick owns and runs the Eden Estate Agency and Fine and Country, both of which are based in Penrith. Last November, he opened Fine and Country in Carlisle to bring a different element to the property market in the city.

Across his property company portfolio, Nick, who runs the businesses with his wife Helen, employs 10 people.

He said: “Within weeks of opening in Carlisle, we had been instructed to act on behalf of a number of people looking to sell their properties the Fine and Country way.

“We simply would not have taken the decision to open a new branch of Fine and Country if we had any fears about the market.

“Basing generalised doom-and-gloom messages on the latest data is wildly misleading, because different parts of the UK have very different property markets.

New venture: The Fine & Country Carlisle office

“Cumbria is a market with its own dynamics. Buyers are driven usually by aspiration, so there is always demand for homes to cater for retirement, holidays or simply a lifestyle change.

“The beauty of the area is, of course, a huge selling point, with the Lake District and Eden Valley particularly popular.

“There is so much offered by the county; escaping the rat race, greater value for money, a better environment with less traffic, a gentler pace of life, fresh air, and stunning places on your doorstep or close by. It’s also a great place to bring up children.

“For all of these reasons, we see a steady, ongoing demand, which is only vulnerable when - as in the credit crunch - fear creeps in and people postpone decisions over uncertainty.

“So it’s very pleasing to say Cumbria is buoyant - and long may that continue for vendors and buyers alike.”