Special report - Time for prices to go through the roof?

David Wilson Homes' Serenity development in Doncaster.
David Wilson Homes' Serenity development in Doncaster.

Switch on the television news and you will regularly be greeted with stories about the nationa’s housing market picking up.

Help to Buy, property prices rising at a great rate of knots and a suggestion of a ‘housing bubble’ emerging have all become familiar phrases after several years of a stagnant market.

Where the rest of the country is seeing an upturn in the hosuing market in some shape of form, the same cannot be said of Doncaster - that is according to the Daily Mail which recently published an online article claiming Doncaster was “the town the property market forgot”.

While property experts in the town accept not everything in the garden is rosey, the article led to comdenation with some accussing the Mail of depciting Doncaster of just ‘another grim northern town.’

Estate agents say that the market is the best it has ever been in seven years, and there is finally light at the end of the tunnel after the recession with average sales now standing at over £170,000 as opposed to tyhe £95,869 the article stated.

Steve Empson, director of Merryweathers says: “The market is still in recovery following on from the recession so we still have a long way to go, but we are recovering. The market isn’t in the doldrums.

“What we are saying to our clients is if the price is right we can achieve a sale on their property.

“I don’t think having this report in the Daily Mail stating that properties are worth less than now than they were in 2004 is incorrect, I actually think they are worth the same and in some areas they are actually worth more.

“We’ve been in business since 1832 and there have been recessions all the way through that period. In my career I’ve been through two, there will be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just taking Doncaster longer than the rest.”

now standing at over £170,000.

Backing this optimism is Chris Thomson, managing director of Robinsons Hornsby, who believes the market will be on more of an even keel and will not have to sail through the choppy waters of boom and bust.

“In the past quarter our average sales price has been over £170,000 which reflects the fact that more higher value houses are selling,” he adds.

“Sales compared to the real tough times of 2008 are about 40 per cent higher and they are in tune with the prices of 2007.”

Mr Thomson believes properties in the £100,000 to £250,000 bracket have recorded price increases of between and five per cent.

He says: “Overall it’s positive. There is actually a lack of stock which is keeping prices at a market level. We need properties to sell, that’s the only problem we have.

“It’s a very steady market and if it stays at this level we will be happy as a business. There is no boom or bust.”

“It’s the best it has been for seven years, as long as people remain realistic with their prices.”

John Cox, area director for William H Brown which has branches in and around Doncaster, believes the town’s transport links and its ‘affordability’ is a real strength, particulalry in attracting first-time buyers.

“Considering that many home buyers will be looking to stay in or around the same location when moving home, comparing local house prices in Doncaster to those in London and the South East is often quite irrelevant,” says Mr Cox.

“We see many sellers and buyers looking to upsize or move just outside the town, so the prices they are buying for are comparable to their sales price.

“Doncaster has a lot going for it with some great areas and beautiful properties. It is perfectly located in terms of road and rail links, and we get a lot of demand from home buyers because of this. Like other areas of the UK, the local housing market is very active, and I see no signs of a slow down at the moment.”

Dan Fell, of Doncaster Chamber, added: “The article ignored the large number of transformational projects such as Robin Hood Airport and the Cultural and Civic Quarter that have been delivered here in recent years, and determinedly tried to characterise Doncaster as ‘A another grim northern town.’”

And it’s not just the ‘second hand market’ that should be taken into account, with a host of new housing developments - including Serenity in Lakeside, The Gables in Chequer Road and Dominion in Balby Carr.

Dan Needham, regional development director at Muse, the developer behind The Gables, said: “We always consider the long-term benefits of investing in an area and saw a real opportunity in Doncaster which I think is now only just being realised.

“Those who live here already understand the benefits of living in Doncaster and tend to want to stay: we have a number of customers at The Gables who have downsized from larger properties in the town’s suburbs which shows that, although first-time buyer demand may be lagging, there is a market for people looking to sell larger homes to enjoy their later years in the town centre.

Doncaster has so much to offer with the new cultural facilities, a first class race course, not to mention it’s fantastic commuter links to London and the wider north. It takes time to change people’s perceptions but I think those who visit the town can see its potential.”