Over the last few years, Bath has become a highly desirable small international city living destination and in these unprecedented times we expect demand for property to continue. The property market at the high end remains robust, based on limited supply and increased demand from British overseas professionals returning home and Londoners escaping big city life.

The housing market easement measures in mid-May, have led to a rapid increase in inquiries for properties in Bath which also ties in with the reports of a nationwide build up in demand. As supply improves, we therefore expect to see a steady increase in transactions in Q3.

Rightmove’s Busiest Ever Day 27th May

In line with the market trends we have seen in Bath, Rightmove also recently reported that “home-mover momentum has been building over the two weeks since the housing market reopened in England, leading to a number of records on Rightmove”.
“Wednesday 27th May saw visits exceed six million in a day for the first time, which is up 18% on Wednesday 29th May last year. The busiest day for time spent on Rightmove was Saturday 23rd May with over 47 million minutes spent collectively.” Rightmove further reported:
• Search is turning into action with record levels of email and telephone leads sent via Rightmove, also up 18% on the same day last year
• Over a quarter of people (28%) who were not planning a move before lockdown are now entering the market
• The number of sales agreed is slowly starting to pick up but will take time, now 47% down on last year, an improvement on the 90% down when the market paused

Bath’s Off Market Property Market Activity

Estate agents are reporting that multiple viewings have been arranged on properties that are not listed and are “off market” in Bath. At KKRE, we have also seen a pick up of inquiries for off market Bath properties especially as clients are prioritizing their families living needs going forward, for a less crowded and densely populated city with excellent amenities, infrastructure and schools. The lockdown easement measures on the property market, has led to a number of physical viewings being arranged on properties at the high end of the market through buying agents representing their clients or with vetted buyers who are immediately proceedable and have their finances in order.

At present, estate agents are commenting that home sellers, have expectations for a short list of prequalified buyers on a listed property instead of an agent generating a large amount of footfall through the front door from “interested parties”. This is being viewed by all involved as a positive move, as a smaller quality list of buyers will enable the sales process to become more finite, with genuine buyers warranting due attention and estate agents and home sellers not having to deal with not so serious or unprepared prospective buyers.

Designated viewing days appear to be the way forward, whereby pre-qualified buyers or their representative buying agents view properties over the course of a set number of days thus minimizing contact risk. The talk, is that this will lead to a more “focused approach” with much of the peripheral interest being removed from the process. Properties are also becoming available to view online but many sellers will opt out of virtual-tours on account of fears over digital snooping and putting their properties security at risk. Online viewings, therefore appear to be a momentary trend and a short-term means of keeping the market moving in the right direction until viewing restrictions are eased further.

Bath’s well established off market property segment appears set to grow further in 2020 and we expect an increase upon the already estimated 30% of Bath property sales at the high end which were made off-market last year. At any given time, over the last few years, there has been a handful of discretionary spend buyers from overseas or London searching for a home and a better lifestyle for their families in Bath. The off market segment will therefore expand further as the number of these buyer profiles increase and sellers prefer to keep their business private.

As lockdown restrictions are further eased, we expect to see an increase in demand for premium properties in smaller international cities like Bath and their surrounding villages in the countryside. Country House properties will be back in vogue especially those with Georgian charm and updated infrastructure including modernized kitchens, bathrooms and electrics and plumbing. Open country views, landscaped gardens, gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools and the good life (vegetable gardens, small livestock holdings and orchards) will now be at the front and foremost of many buyers minds.

Buyer Advice

Our advice to serious buyers, in these competitive times remains the same; your finances need to be in order upfront so that estate agents can pre-qualify you as being immediately proceedable. Buying agents with heavily embedded local networks, will come into their own as buyers look to retain their services to access off market properties and attain an advantage over other buyers. Sellers of premium properties are expected to remain cautious and will have a preference to work on an exclusive basis with estate agents and only agree to set designated viewing days with pre-qualified buyers and their representative buying agents.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Bath property market and retaining a buying agent then please get in touch with:

Gareth Stubbings