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Tim Page-Ratcliff provides an update on the residential property market and advice to those planning a move


April 2024

I was with cautious optimism that I wrote my latest Market Update for Sussex Life magazine.


The new year always creates fresh optimism amongst estate agents and the start of 2024 has been no different.  After a disappointingly sluggish autumn market and horribly wet winter, would-be sellers are now coming out of winter hibernation and would-be buyers are beginning to stir.  Rather like the spring bulbs, the country house market feels as though it’s about to blossom.  Momentum is certainly building and most agents are now busy planning sale campaigns.  Historically, Easter is a landmark date in the property calendar and, being early this year, I’m not expecting to see any significant upturn in new listings until the second half of April.  Some blue sky, drier ground, cut grass and warmer weather should then ignite what I think is likely to be an active spring and summer market, especially as the general election seems increasingly likely to be later in the year.


Although it’s too early in 2024 to be making bold predictions about the rest of the year, it’s encouraging that the market has already seen increased positivity.  New buyer registrations since early January have been rising, as confidence levels have improved.  Across the residential property market as a whole, the number of sales arranged in January and February was markedly higher than for the first two months of last year, but we’ll have to wait a little longer to know where the market is heading.  With the rate of inflation now down to 3.4% and the Bank of England deciding to hold the Base Rate at 5.25%, the mortgage market has become very volatile with rates hovering around 4%. 


From my own experience, I know the market will quieten down once the general election is called.  It always does, because the natural instinct of many is to do nothing and ‘wait and see’.  If, as the political commentators are predicting, the election is in November, it’ll undermine the autumn market.  This makes me think the spring/summer market is likely to be frantically busy, as sellers and buyers seek to achieve their objectives by the end of September. 


Turning now to TPR Property Solutions, we have had a positive start to 2024 with completions on two transactions and a number of new clients engaging with us.  We are now urgently seeking properties.


Our immediate client requirements as follows:


  • Central Lindfield, where our clients are seeking a 4/5 bedroom house, or indeed something rather larger with secondary accommodation.    

  • The Meads, Eastbourne, where our clients are looking for a detached property with private parking, within a 10-minute walk of the beach.

  • Village between Lewes and Ditchling, where our client is seeking a cosy, character 3/4 bedroom detached cottage.


All these clients are able to proceed with a purchase immediately, although they could all offer delayed completion, if it was required.  Please do contact us if you’re planning a move and might have the perfect solution to one of these searches.


After a long career with Strutt & Parker in Lewes, my ‘little black book’ is probably second to none.  Through my extended community of clients and/or friends (luckily for me, many fall into both category), I’m always speaking confidentially with people who are planning a sale and want me to know well in advance.  In fact, so far this year I’ve been to see some lovely people with very special properties, many of whom are planning to downsize in the next year or so, but would be open to a ‘private’ transaction if we had the ‘right’ client.  Acting for clients in 2023, we purchased four properties in exactly this way – they were all ‘off-market’ transactions and none of the properties was listed on the portals.  Indeed, post pandemic, there’s a growing trend for best-in-class property to change hands entirely discreetly and under the radar – a reflection of those who value their privacy and would rather avoid having hordes of strangers walking round their house.


After a slow and miserably wet winter, the country house market in Sussex feels as though it’s about to burst into life.  There’s definitely some pent-up demand, especially for higher-end property in mid-Sussex, which bodes well for sellers wanting to take advantage of the 2024 market.

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