The launch of a new national crime map that reveals all the criminal offences committed across England and Wales has cast new light on the property market, states Alastair Brown, partner at Strutt & Parker.
It is the first of its kind in the world and with detailed data pinpointing the smallest of crimes down to particular streets the site will provide homeowners and potential buyers with considerable new information.
Naturally there has been concern that this revelation may lead to a drive down in house prices in some areas. However we at Strutt & Parker thinks this is unlikely. Initial online research undertaken by buyers is now seen as part and parcel of their homework on property and areas and crime street mapping should be viewed in context as part of an overview – not necessarily in isolation as a key deciding factor.
There is already a huge amount of data available for buyers on main search engines and bearing in mind 80% of buyers start their search on the internet most sensible buyers are fairly clued up on areas they are buying into – especially as the majority of people buy only 10 – 15 miles from their current homes. It is those moving into an area that they know little about that may be more wary if the postcode throws up a high crime rate…and could be put off.
The market is already affected by crime levels and this is reflected in the differentiation between house prices across the UK. Alastair Brown warns that the greater imbalance between areas will create an ever more significant divide particularly blighting the poorer areas. Obviously there is merit in providing buyers with more open information but, as Alastair Brown adds, it is just another factor and unlikely to be examined over and above other information available, such as previous prices achieved, planning history, good schools in the area, good transport links and how the street looks! There is such a thing as ‘over research’ – and as most buyers know there is very rarely a perfect house with every single box ticked.
Whilst there is great hype about this website now (the site crashed with over 5 million people logging on every hour) and some doubts cast as to its accuracy, notwithstanding the odd statistical blip Strutt & Parker believes that, as is often the case, the urgency to use this new tool will soon have died down and will in some cases be totally forgotten. Most of our buyers put most trust in word of mouth and personal recommendations and the professional advice that Strutt & Parker is able to provide across our offices. There is after all no better substitute to personal and local expertise.
Alastair Brown is at Strutt & Parker on 01603 617431.