IT’S THE time of year when as a business we reflect on the highs and lows of the last year but also look forward to what we can expect during the new one.

Since the Chancellor’s mini budget in October, we have sold more than 120 properties across our West Yorkshire areas, 40 per cent of which were terraced homes and 39 per cent semi-detached. From these homes, 95 per cent of the properties were two or three bedrooms, which are the most popular house type across the region.

Reviewing our sales figures, we haven’t seen too much of a fall, however, we are now experiencing a calmer market with fewer viewings and fewer multiple bids on properties compared to 12 months ago.

Despite the calming of the market, there is still a limited amount of properties available for sale, which is helping to maintain the current prices. As a result, it is not surprising to find that first-time buyers are beginning to struggle with finding the relevant deposits as interest rates have risen nine times since December 2021 from 0.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. Young buyers have become accustomed to seeing lower rates over the past two years, so to see five to six per cent mortgage rates is a large change to affordability. This has been partly reflected in our sales figures for the last three months, with properties up to £150,000 becoming the most popular within the BD2, BD4, BD6 and BD12 postcodes.

The past two years have not been a normal market by any means and the crazy conditions were just not sustainable, so in some respects we are looking forward to a more normal market returning over the next year.

We feel that West Yorkshire and Bradford in particular will be more sheltered from the potential fall in the market as overall price inflation was a lot lower than the South, making the region and Bradford as a city, an attractive place to buy. Compared to Leeds, where the average house price is £250,477, according to figures from ‘Rightmove’, Bradford is 27 per cent lower with an average house price of £181,984. For buyers looking to get ‘more house for their money’, Bradford is an excellent place to buy.

If you are looking to buy in the Bradford area, we would definitely recommend trying to stretch your budget where possible in order to purchase. Over the past year, rents have increased dramatically within the region due to the lack of properties available, with many landlords now choosing to sell their properties to take advantage of higher prices and less advantageous tax rules.

If you are buying or selling this year preparation is key. We remind all our clients how important it is to fully prepare for making a move, whether you are looking to sell, buy or both.

Buyers and sellers frequently ask me how long it will take to move and with transaction times ever increasing, this is a concern for everyone. Our advice to tackle this is to use a proactive agent who can begin to get you legally prepared to move from day one and who can act quickly to prepare everything from marketing to instructing solicitors on an agreed sale.

We also regularly remind our vendors to seriously consider the offers made by buyers with either a short chain or no onward chain because this can significantly reduce the amount of time a sale can take to complete. Any buyers or sellers who could break the chain are also in a strong position to help prevent their sale from possibly falling through.

Looking at things from a buyer’s perspective, one thing we feel will be really important this year is making sure that you have proper funding in place. Mortgage rates are changing all the time, so don’t rely on an outdated ‘mortgage in principle’ information or you may struggle when the time comes to get your offer agreed.

As always, if you are getting ready to sell in 2023, one of the best things you can do to get the highest price for your property is ensure that your home is finished to the best standard possible with no outstanding repairs to be done. Quality kitchens and bathrooms always attract higher values, however good décor and finish is also crucial as buyers will look at photos and details online before deciding to view your property.

If you have a space in your home which can also be presented as a home office, this is something we have found is still popular with buyers in our area. Many people have continued working from home throughout 2022 and plan to continue to do so for the next year and beyond.

A well landscaped and cared for garden is also high on the wish list for many buyers.

If you are ready to buy, sell, rent, or let a property in 2023, the Robert Watts teams in Wibsey, Birkenshaw, Cleckheaton, Highfield and Shelf are all on hand to help you make the most of your assets.