ACCORDING to estate and lettings agency Romans, 89 per cent of its customers think that property values will rise in 2015.

Peter Coles, group managing director at Romans, which has a branch in Basingstoke’s Top of The Town, shares his house price predictions for the next 12 months.

“From the frenetic conditions of the first half of 2014, the property market has settled into a much more balanced, and therefore sustainable, level of activity,” said Peter.

“Sellers now need to be more mindful of the competition – other properties on the market for sale and sold – as buyers and surveyors, on behalf of lenders, are comparing prices and ensuring that properties aren’t being overpriced.

“Therefore, speculative pricing is not advised, as it can not only delay the entire sales process but can often result in an even lower sales price being achieved than otherwise might have been.

“This is due to the stigma associated with a property that has been on the market for a long time, or had its price reduced.”

Commenting on property market predictions for buyers, he said: “There is more choice for buyers now and although this means there’s less pressure to make an offer straight away, demand does remain strong, especially for quality property in desirable locations.

“If you see something you like the chances are you won’t be alone in your interest, so we’re advising buyers to avoid any unnecessary prevarication or you will simply be pipped to the post by other buyers.

“My house price predictions are that, unless a buyer has robust evidence that an asking price really is unrealistic, then to avoid missing out to a better offer I’d advise against quibbling too much, if at all.

“I expect property prices to increase locally by five to 10 per cent during 2015. The upper end of the market is likely to see the lower increases with the smaller one and two bedroom properties, enjoying the bigger rises. A lot of this demand will stem from first time buyers competing with investors.

“First time buyers will continue to take advantage of the ongoing low interest rates and the government support schemes. Investors, on the other hand, will be looking forward to the April change in pension rules and looking for property investment opportunities, specifically smaller properties in desirable areas that offer excellent yields and good long term capital growth.

“With regards to the forthcoming election I don’t believe that this will materially impact the property market locally.

“It certainly hasn’t done on previous occasions as, after all, regardless of what the election outcome is, people will always need to move home and buy and sell property.”

With regards to property investment opportunities for landlords, Peter Fuller, lettings managing director at Romans, pictured below, suggests more people will turn to buy-to-let investment in 2015, as an alternative way of receiving a regular income.

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He said: “The availability of better buy-to-let mortgage deals and a continuing growth in values will see investors actively purchasing more property, increasing the amount of new property available to rent.

He notes that legislation on pension funds will change in April 2015, allowing savers aged 55 and over to have the freedom to do as much or as little as they want with their pension, and be able to cash in any annuities that have not been performing as well as they had anticipated.

“I expect a significant number of them to turn to buy-to-let property investment as an alternative way of providing a regular income, bolstering the private rental sector in the process,” said Peter.

“That being said, some landlords, who perhaps inherited property and became ‘accidental landlords,’ will still take advantage of recent house price increases and sell their property.

“During 2014 I’ve noticed that more tenants are staying in properties for longer; which is encouraging for new landlords.

“In many cases this provides landlords with a stable second income and helps them make feasible plans for future investments.

Commenting on property market predictions for tenants, Peter said: “Tenant demand will remain consistent, with the gap between earnings and house prices continuing to widen.

“This will result in some tenants renting for longer as they are priced out of the market and unable to purchase property.

“Add to this the news that earnings are outperforming inflation and this should see rents rise by approximately five per cent, similar to the increases in 2014.

“Broadly speaking, we expect this to be in line or slightly below house price increase predictions, which will result in healthy equity growth and fairly consistent rental yields for landlords.

“With interest rates expected to remain low, this means that property in the local area will provide excellent short, medium and long term returns for any investors.

“Overall, I predict there will be improved levels of property available to rent during 2015, compared to 2014, but still not a huge amount of choice for tenants.”

Greg May, director of Romans Mortgage Services, pictured below, comments on how the prolonged interest rates could mean it is better to buy sooner rather than later.

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He said: “We are now familiar with the headline ‘Bank of England keeps interest rates at record low of 0.5 per cent’.

“It’s been the story since March 2009, some 68 months ago.

“But with this news comes a greater responsibility for the buyer.