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house price rise2014 was a busy year in the Cambridge property market. Although widely regarded as a year of two halves (January to June being somewhat more frantic) we did see a rise in activity and a return to form around December. In what is traditionally a quieter time in our industry we experienced excellent activity, with several sales being agreed during the Christmas week and two on Christmas Eve!

Mortgage availability continued to improve throughout the year, as did buyer demand, so it is no wonder that the city saw a 12.1% growth in property prices last year, with the average sale price rising above £400,000 for the first time to £404,085. Cambridgeshire as a whole also saw a rise in property prices, up by 5.1%.

The reform of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) system, effective from 4 December 2014, provided an instant boost to sales. In fact, the majority of buyers will be better off under the new system with the tipping point being £937,000. Based on 2014 sale prices, the average saving on Stamp Duty in Cambridgeshire would be £1,236.

The reform will be particularly important for first time buyers, who can often struggle with buying costs. The average price paid for a home by first time buyers in Cambridge was £208,026 – 11.5% more in November 2014 compared to the previous year. Mortgage funding advanced to first time buyers in November 2014 also increased, up 6% on the November 2013 figure. So, with less SDLT pressure, greater mortgage availability and approvals, we may start to see the pressure on the bank of Mum and Dad reducing slightly.

Over the last five years smaller properties have outperformed the wider market in Cambridge. Flats and terraced houses have both seen price growth approaching 40% over the last five years, reflecting an increasing interest in smaller properties in the city. While detached and semi-detached properties have comfortably outperformed the national market, buyers have demonstrated greater enthusiasm for these smaller homes. This is possibly driven by high demand for buy-to-let opportunities, as investors often favour the perceived property hotspots smaller homes.

HH cover thumbTake a look at our first HouseHunter magazine of 2015, available as a flip magazine on our website and as a hard copy in each of our offices. Want it sent direct to your inbox in future? If so, click here to register.

2014 was a busy year in the Cambridge property market, with the city outperforming Cambridgeshire as a whole with a 12.1% growth in property prices. Learn more on page 12.

Following the inevitable festive over indulgence, I’m sure many started the year with the usual good intentions of getting more exercise, drinking less and eating healthier food. If, like me, you have well and truly fallen off the wagon, you may be interested in this month’s feature from Cambridge Food Tour. Whether you are new to the city or maybe just want to get to know the Cambridge food scene better, their tours will help you discover delicious local food and drink. See page 18 for more details. If you’d rather try your hand at cooking something new, turn to page 24 for this month’s recipe, Frascarelli al Peperone.

We have feature slots available in some of our upcoming editions, so if you would like to see your local business featured in our magazine, email for more details.

MarathonAfter completing the Edinburgh Marathon back in May 2013 Andy vowed “never again!”. However, on the 26th April he will be donning his running shoes once again, this time to complete the London Marathon in aid of Parkinson’s UK.

His decision to apply for a place with the charity was down to his Dad, who has lived with Parkinson’s for over 10 years now. His Dad has always hoped that with better research a cure may be found for the condition, or just better treatments.

Parkinson’s UK fund ground-breaking research into the condition and also offer support for those affected and their families.

Andy needs to raise £1,900 to run for Parkinson’s UK and needs all the help he can get in reaching that target – even the smallest amount will help if you can spare it.

To donate visit Andy’s fundraising page.

Thank you.

New YearWith a busy end to 2014 we now all too quickly find ourselves racing into 2015 full of festive overindulgence, with great plans to join the gym, quit smoking or maybe drink and eat less. All very reasonable ideas and no doubt thoughts of these good intentions will come and go as we progress through the year. However, if your New Year plan is to move house we would recommend taking positive steps during the next few weeks and avoid procrastinating – we can all be guilty of this, especially when faced with sticking to our resolutions!

The well known saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’ has never been more relevant. There has never been a better time to sell – with increasing buyer demand, encouraged by greater mortgage availability and the positive 2014 Stamp Duty Land Tax reform, we anticipate a strong start to the year as we approach what is traditionally one of the busiest times in our industry. Sellers grasping the nettle and being proactive will no doubt feel the benefits of stealing a march on the competition, securing sales to buyers who presently have little choice.

If moving is on your mind why not pour yourself a drink, grab your favourite chocolate bar and put the gym membership on hold – maybe don’t light a cigarette but do give us a call and talk through how we can help make your move happen and fulfil at least one New Year’s resolution!

stamp dutyWhether you are a buyer or seller (or both!), the recent announcement of the new Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) system is unlikely to have passed you by.

The government’s reform of the ‘slab style’ system to one that it is fairer and more progressive, effective from 4 December 2014, was welcome news to most. Under the new system anyone buying a home costing under £937,000 should pay less or the same SDLT.

However, the new system is not just helping buyers. Since the reform we have already agreed sales on two properties which we feel have directly benefited from the new rules. Both properties had sales agreed just over the previously tricky thresholds of £250,000 and £500,000, showing that there is now less of a barrier at these levels resulting in the sellers achieving a better price and the buyers paying less tax.

To find out the tax payable on your property purchase, enter the proposed purchase price into the Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator.

foodbank elyFollowing last year’s success we decided to run our Ely Foodbank Christmas Appeal for a second year.  Thanks to the people of Ely and the support they have shown with donations, the Christmas Appeal has once again been a great success.

We have collected enough donations for the foodbank to be able to hand out Christmas Hampers alongside the emergency food packages that are given out over the festive period.

TuckerGardner would like to thank everyone that has made a donation, hopefully spreading a bit of festive spirit to those that otherwise may not have had it.

Christmas 2014 lightsThe 10th Ely Christmas lights switch on takes place tomorrow, Friday 28th November. From 4pm on the Market Square there will be a night of free entertainment, with craft and charity stalls, a funfair and Santa’s Grotto. Our Ely team will be there too, offering mince pies, mulled wine and balloons to get everyone in the festive mood. We hope to see you there!

Also this weekend is the Ely St John’s School Christmas Fayre. From 1.30pm to 4pm this Saturday (29th), there will be lots of stalls, food, a raffle, tombola, face painting, sand sculptures, craft, sweets, popcorn, hook the duck and more! All proceeds will go to the Friends of Ely St John’s School, who are raising funds for a theatre visit to the school, more visualisers, cd players for audio books and other educational material which are much needed by the school.

The Feast organisers

The Feast organisers

This year the modern Shelford Feast celebrated its 20th anniversary of providing entertainment to the village and raising money for local groups and causes.

Village feasts are a long standing English tradition and the Shelford Feast dates back to Medieval times. It is held annually around the feast day of St Mary the Virgin, the saint of the Parish Church, in July. The Feast died out just before the Second World War and lay dormant for over 50 years but was resurrected in 1994 and since then has expanded from a small village barbeque to a week-long festival of entertainment and enjoyment.

2014’s Feast was the most successful yet, raising over £26,000, and the money was distributed to the various local causes at a presentation evening at the village Memorial Hall this weekend. As TuckerGardner have been the main sponsor of the event from the beginning, I was invited to hand out some of the cheques.

Some of the recipients

Some of the recipients

Samuel Cooke handing over a cheque

Samuel Cooke handing over a cheque









The focus of the distribution has always been on local groups, with a particular emphasis on younger and older people and this year’s main recipients were:

Great and Little Shelford School
The Mobile Warden Scheme
Rainbow Pre-School and Wacky Club
The Parish Council
SSYI Youth Club

Other beneficiaries included:

Acacia Court Residents, Beavers, Bowls, Brownies, CAMMS Meals on Wheels, Cangaroos, Carpet Bowls Club, Chestnut Club, Cricket, Cubs, Different Strokes, Football Club, Friends of St Mary’s Church, Friends of the Library, Friendship Club, Guides, Junior Badminton, Parkinsons, Rugby, Scout & Guide HQ, Scouts, Shelford Twinning, Stapleford Twinning, Strikers, Sunnyside playgroup, SURFF United, Winter Comfort, Women’s Institute, Orchard House, Pantomime, Community Association, Magpas.

Xmas shoeboxes histonOur office in Histon is seeing the start of the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes arriving with approximately 65 deposited already. We anticipate around 400 being brought in by the closing date of 18 November.

These brightly wrapped festive Shoeboxes are providing a great deal of cheer to all who come in to our office, so can you imagine the cheer one simple Shoebox, filled with love, would bring to a child?


Fill one today and bring it to any one of our local offices, all of which are drop off points this year. For details of how to pack your shoebox visit the Operation Christmas Child website.

next springThis time of year I usually visit about a dozen people a week to give advice on selling their home. On about a dozen of those dozen appointments the subject of whether it’s best to sell now or in the spring comes up.

The simple answer is yes. And no.

I’ll elaborate.

Imagine you live in the countryside. A mile down a pretty little lane, in a lovely Victorian farmhouse with acres of landscaped gardens and original sash windows. To a London buyer, pursuing the countryside dream but concerned about the countryside compromise, it’s fairly obvious that deep winter isn’t the best time to fully appreciate such a house. A once pretty, narrow lane to whistle along on a bright summer morning becomes a slippy, dark muddy lane to battle against on the way to the train station, lovely period sash windows become drafty, rattly old windows and big gardens become a leaf-strewn chore rather than a beautiful, green joy.

Conclusive stuff.

Until you consider supply and demand.

Let’s say there are two London buyers who fancy moving and two buyers with a new job in the area who need to move, making four. In the winter the two London buyers drift off the idea until the spring. But the other two don’t, because they need to move. Come the spring there are four buyers again, but because perceived wisdom amongst sellers is to wait until the leaves come out, three similar houses come to the market instead of one. So a 2:1 ratio of buyers to sellers in the winter, becomes a 4:3 ratio in the spring. And as fans of maths will know, a 2:1 ratio is preferable to 4:3. Unless you’re riding a bicycle up a hill.

So to answer the original question; whether one should wait until the spring: Yes, because a house in the country looks prettier in the spring, but also no, because that doesn’t necessarily mean it will sell better if other similar houses come to the market giving buyers a choice.

And not all houses are miles down a country lane. Houses in easily accessible areas are probably no less desirable in the winter.

There are specific circumstances where the advice may be to wait – for example if you back on to a block of flats that is obscured by a deciduous tree in the spring. But generally, for all of the above reasons, best advice is that if you feel ready to put your house on the market in the winter, then do so and ignore the time of year. There are too many variables to give the definitive advice to wait.

Every year I tell everyone this, every year fewer houses come up over the winter than in the spring and every year we achieve some fantastic prices during the winter, from keen buyers who don’t want to wait.