Scarcity of houses for sale

(38 Posts)
goldenpeach Wed 08-Jul-09 19:26:44

I'm trying to understand what is happening in Cambridge as there are very few houses up for sale. We are chain free buyers but despite this we have been gazumped by a chained offer and now are struggling to find a good size family home. Are people holding on? It seems strange as prices are still quite high compared to other cities.

Lilymaid Wed 08-Jul-09 19:33:41

We had this problem 12 years ago when we moved here - I think there is a shortage of decent family sized housing compared with other areas of the country. In the end we bought a new house, thinking we would move again after a couple of years when we knew the area better. However, life intervened and we are still in the same house.

goldenpeach Fri 17-Jul-09 19:01:00

Thanks, lilymaid, we will have to wait and see. Any other tips?

Atzan Mon 27-Jul-09 17:22:24

The perennial problem with the Cambridge housing market is shortage of supply. It's a city with a very strong, high skilled (and therefore relatively high waged) local economy that's also within commuting distance of London. Add to that the fact that a large proportion of the land in central Cambridge is owned by the colleges (not just the college sites themselves but also the considerable quantities of housing they own for student accommodation) and supply just can't meet demand. In the current market, that's exacerbated by the general reduction caused by people sitting tight in the economic downtown. The result, as you're finding, is there's very little for sale, particularly within easy cycling distance of the city centre.

Don't get downhearted though, you can find somewhere, but you need to be prepared to move quickly when you do (being chain free is an excellent position) and accept that, even in this market, houses in central Cambridge will still go for at or near their asking price. On the upside though, it means that whatever house you do buy is likely to be an excellent medium to long term investment - the Cambridge market is the nearest thing there is to bulletproof, particularly for family homes within cycling distance of the centre.

If you're new to the city, you might find my Primary School catchments map helpful. As well as school and catchment locations, it also gives SAT scores and links to Ofsted inspections. The schools are listed in order of average SAT score over the past four years. Of course, take it with a pinch of salt as SAT scores are a pretty crude measure and don't give you the whole picture about a school.

coolma Tue 28-Jul-09 19:15:02

We are so incredibly lucky to own a house about 20 minutes walk from the city centre - and have been following the market carefully. It's true there's been very little price fluctuation.

goldenpeach Tue 28-Jul-09 20:55:22

Thanks, Atzan! I'm not too concerned by schools, but it's useful to know.

thegrowlygus Thu 30-Jul-09 12:58:29

Found anywhere yet?! We are starting to look and already feeling a bit jaded by it all.

What is cherry hinton road like? I don't really know that bit of cambridge at all...

flowerybeanbag Thu 30-Jul-09 13:00:28

Ooh this is an interesting thread. We had a note passed through our door yesterday, a family looking for a house, no chain, desperate to find somewhere to buy, and I remarked to DH how strange in this climate, would have thought there were plenty of houses remaining unsold.

Perhaps it's a local thing.

LeninGrad Thu 30-Jul-09 13:10:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

goldenpeach Thu 30-Jul-09 19:43:32

Yes, the supply is dire. Still some people are unrealistic, I saw a three bed terrace going for 499, nothing special, the only 'advantage' is that it's very close to the station. Personally I don't care for that. Then there is a three bed detached for 295 on a main road but not far from centre. A bit of a gap in pricing, I say!

Atzan Fri 31-Jul-09 12:55:23

The 3 bed terrace at £499k is on the street next to mine and, yes, I agree it's overpriced. I'd be really surprised if that valuation was given by an estate agent. Sounds like the owners living in cloud cuckoo land.

goldenpeach Mon 03-Aug-09 19:57:15

Atzan, any on sale that are not overpriced? More amazingly-priced properties have popped out.

Atzan Tue 04-Aug-09 11:56:53

Crazy as it sounds, any half decent 4 bedroom family home within walking distance of central Cambridge in a decent school area that's under £500k probably isn't overpriced!

My tip for good value in Cambridge is Cherry Hinton, specifically the streets between the High Street and Cherry Hinton Hall/the old quarry pits around Mill End Road. It's a nice, established residential area with modern, decent size houses and amenities close by that's also in the catchment area of an excellent primary school, The Spinney (scores as highly as the schools in the expensive central areas and significantly higher than the other schools in south Cambridge/Chinton). Even if you're not interested in the school yourself, buying a family home in a good school area always protects values and helps ensure an easy resale.

goldenpeach Tue 04-Aug-09 23:57:13

Thanks Atzan, but not many four beds around, these half a million houses are three beds or should I say glorified three bedders as the third room is tiny.

Looked at Cherry Hinton, but most property for sale in our range were on main road, which looks busy. Not keen on new builds, but fine with 1960s/70s houses.

I'm not on the first step of the ladder and we are hoping to get something better than we had in London (big three bed semi with 60ft garden in quiet street).

It seems to me we would get a better deal in London now as prices have crashed while we'll be compromising in Cambridge...

MY DP is adamant on not overpaying and he says he doesn't care about the school. We will end up renting again, sigh!

thegrowlygus Wed 05-Aug-09 07:22:12

What about this one? Think it looks nice but I have no clue about the area.


thegrowlygus Wed 05-Aug-09 07:23:24

And what is Fowlmere like? (apart from a complete pig to get to my work from but that is a minor consideration hmm )

And stapleford?

Atzan Wed 05-Aug-09 10:53:57

Fowlmere is a lovely village. The Chequers is an excellent pub, very foody. Most of the villages south and west of Cambridge are nice though.

Stapleford is good too, although these days Great Shelford and Stapleford pretty much run into each other. Great and Little Shelford and the Staplefords have all grown over the years so that they almost merge into each other and there's continuous housing lining the road from Shelford to Trumpington on the edge of Cambridge too. On the other hand, the housing is generally good quality and being larger villages means they support a better range of amenities. Basically, any are good addresses!

Atzan Wed 05-Aug-09 10:57:46

TGG, meant to say that the house on Bullen Close looks good and it's in a pretty decent area as well. Shops and schools both close by.

Atzan Wed 05-Aug-09 11:13:30

Goldenpeach, you don't say what your price range is but I'm guessing that if you sold a big 3 bed semi in London, you're can afford to hunt in the upper part of the Cambridge market!

Cambridge certainly isn't cheap but on the other hand it's still nowhere near London prices, assuming you're talking about any half-decent part of London. Prices in Cambridge have dropped slightly but probably not as much as in London, although I'd still expect you to be able to get considerably more property for your money in Cambridge than in London.

Btw, for the area of Cherry Hinton I mentioned (which is 1960s/70s with newer parts 1980s/90s), prices are typically in the £200-£300k range.

I don't think there's much danger of overpaying. The Cambridge market is driven by high demand and relatively low supply, and it's been this way for years (decades!), so sellers in Cambridge will always be in quite a bullish position, it's just how the market is. Personally, we've just agreed to buy a 4 bed home in the centre of town and actually paid below asking price (not much below!) which I reckon is a massive coup! We're still paying £150k more than any property on the road has ever sold for before though, but I don't think it's overvalued at all.

mooki Wed 05-Aug-09 15:45:18

Atzan - that's a fab map, I shall be perusing that tonight. We're trying to get move from the Shirley/Manor catchment area.
DD is only just 2 but I'd like to settle somewhere in time for pre-school. Thought the Spinney looked good but it's quite a limited catchment.

Anyone not bothered about schools want a 1929 3 bed end of terrace in the north of the city?

I would love to live in Histon/Impington but couldn't really go out much further on that side of the city (no parking at work). We might have to out as far as Sawston or Comberton to get somewhere bigger than our current place.

goldenpeach Wed 05-Aug-09 18:06:55

Atzan, there is a lot of misconception about London. We were not far from centre on tube but we sold for 320. It was a Victorian property with plenty of original features, two fireplaces, the lot. Now prices in same road are 250. That's why I'm annoyed and think it's cheaper in London. Even Chelsea's prices have crashed, in another league than our area but still worrying. Only people in Cambridge seem not to be worried.

goldenpeach Wed 05-Aug-09 18:15:26

Sorry, meant 318 and in mint condition as we redecorated before sale. Oh and we don't mind doing work to house but so far even the outdated/rundown houses are higly priced. I don't want to live in the centre, the house we were buying was 2 miles from station but cyclable.

ChasingSquirrels Wed 05-Aug-09 18:19:42

There is a massive difference between the city and the villages.
When we were looking (ok nearly a decade ago, but still) we originally thought near to the station (as we both worked in that area). Haha, no bloody way (we were moving from Norwich and could have got a mansion for what a 2-up-2-down was costing near the station).
We are in one of the north-east villages, and 4-beds are around £200 - £350++

Atzan Thu 06-Aug-09 10:04:22

Goldenpeach, sounds to me like you still have a bit of a hankering for London. Maybe the provinces aren't for you quite yet!

As you say, buying back into the market after a drop in prices can make a lot of sense. I'm assuming there are better houses available in London now for what you sold yours for?

Atzan Thu 06-Aug-09 10:18:38

Mooki, if you're moving out of the city itself then prices probably won't be too much different to where you are now. I agree that Histon & Impington are nice, with that town & country crossover feeling!

ChasingSquirrels, we live near the station atm (town side of the railway line) but decided that's just too far out for us so are moving even closer in! wink I feel like I'm reverting to my college days when anything further out than Parker's Piece was miles away!

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