Plymouth's housing market ripens with an autumn uplift
PLYMOUTH'S housing market is picking up after a summer slowdown – but first-time buyers still face hurdles getting a mortgage.
City estate agents say the market crept through August but is looking more sprightly for the autumn.
The message is that the right house will still sell, and prices, although having dropped, are still way off "rock bottom".
The buy-to-let and family-home markets are strong, and central areas such as Peverell, Mutley and St Judes, are sought after.
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But with some lenders asking for 20 per cent deposits, or refusing anyone without a strong credit history, first-timers are still finding it hard to get on the rung.
However, there are some 95 per cent mortgages available and in some parts of the city a £10,000 deposit will land a three-bedroom house.
"The market is better now than it was in August," said Doug Wright, residential sales manager at Fox and Sons, Mutley Plain.
"We are finding the market doing better is the one attracting families and investors.
"There's a lot of commercial investment around, about a third have gone to buy-to-let.
"Peverell, Mutley and St Judes are performing better. Crownhill is still good, and we have done quite well in Stoke with period properties. Also, areas close to town, like Laira.
"We are struggling around Southway, the north of the city."
He said first-timers faced a problem because "the mortgage lenders' criteria was "so tight".
"People want to buy but the lending criteria is curtailing it."
Mr Wright said 10 per cent and 15 per cent deposits were common and said: "You can buy a three-bedroom house in Southway with a £10,000 deposit."
Ben Dreher, branch manager at Mansbridge and Balment, at Mutley Plain, said deposits were a problem.
"First-time buyers need to put down 20-25 per cent which is as much as £25,000 to £30,000," he said.
Some people are re-mortgaging homes to pay for their children's deposits, he said.
"But if you've three kids you could end up paying £100,000," he said.
"There needs to be something in place to help first-time buyers."
He said the drop in equity in homes had affected the market for people wanting to move on too, but added: "The investors' market is still reasonable."
He said this year had been "patchy", and added: "We had a fantastic year up to the Olympics – then it went quiet.
"But viewing numbers have picked up in the past week or so.
"There's a desire to buy but finance is hard to get."
Jon Turfrey, branch manager at Haart in Mutley Plain, said there were some 95 per cent mortgages available, however, and these have brought "a big influx of first-time buyers".
"We are finding that people struggling to get mortgages are the people that are high-risk.
"If you have decent credit and income with a solid deposit of 10 per cent you can get a property."
He added: "The market is not as bad as people make out. It's not flying but properties are still selling – and it's not rock bottom prices."
However, he said sellers' expectations were still high, despite a 15 per cent drop in prices since the 2008 peak.
But he said: "If you have a nice property, which is nicely decorated, you will get a good price."