Author of the Grantham Property Blog, Christopher Watkin, 44, is proud of his family’s connection to the town, with his parents and brother running the popular 103-year-old butchers shop in Westgate.
While his career has seen him gain knowledge of the property market across the UK, the situation in Grantham always comes first and foremost to Christopher. He told us more.
What’s your background?
After leaving King’s in 1989, I studied chartered surveying at Sheffield University. After qualifying I worked for the Halifax in their estate agency section, predominately in Grantham but also Melton Mowbray, Nottingham, Newark and Boston. In 2010 I returned to Grantham and became head of recruitment at the national HQ of Belvoir Lettings, which gave me a fascinating insight into the entire UK property market. Both were great firms to work for, but it was in my DNA to run my own business, so in 2013, I decided to become my own boss. I am now a property journalist and ghost writer for agents across the UK, writing in-depth articles about each of their town’s property markets. However, being a Grantham lad born and bred, I always like to write about the Grantham property market. On Grantham Property Blog, I write a weekly commentary about what is happening here.
What do you think of the current property market in Grantham?
Have you noticed that there are fewer for sale boards in Grantham than a decade ago? Over the last few months, the average number of properties on the market in Grantham has been around 350 to 380. Ten years ago it was always around 720 to 740. There are also fewer properties selling in Grantham. In the mid 2000s, on average 123 properties were selling each month. In the last 12 months, it’s been on average 74 per month. In a nutshell, fewer properties are selling in Grantham and fewer properties are on the market. House prices are steadily rising at around 3.8 per cent a year in the town, and will continue to do so.
How have you seen the market change?
Since 1995, the average value of a Grantham property has risen by 203.5per cent... It gets really interesting when we look at the difference between detached, semis, terraces and flats. Since 1995 the average detached house in Grantham has risen by 176 per cent from £60,100 to £168,400, the average flat by 153 per cent from £31,500 to £79,700, and the average semi by 201 per cent from £41,600 to £125,300. But the average Grantham terrace has risen by 253 per cent from £32,000 to £113,600, outperforming detached properties by a considerable degree.
Next, looking at property ownership, of 17,944 properties in Grantham, 11,288 or 62.9 per cent are homeowners, just below the national average of 64 per cent. Over the last 15 years, there has been an explosion in renting. Grantham is above the 15.6 per cent national average, with 18.8 per cent of households privately rented. I discuss the reason why this might be in my blog.
What do you think about the number of vacant commercial premises in Grantham?
Landlords of commercial properties need to recognise that people starting their own businesses cannot commit to lengthy leases of 10 or 15 years. They need to be more flexible with their rents to attract new companies into their units. The council needs to play its part to attract people to shop, with innovative ways such as free parking. Shopkeepers need to realise that with the advent of the internet, they need to offer something different to make people not want to shop online, and finally, all Grantham people must recognise they have personal responsibility not to take the easy option of shopping online, but explore the town and shop local.