Kent Online: Data from the Spring house-buying service suggests householders in Barming near Maidstone have one of the longest waits in the country to sell their homes

As featured in Kent Online: 15th April 2022 by Alan Smith

Data suggests it takes longer to sell a home in a sinkhole-strewn neighbourhood than almost anywhere else in the country – but estate agents disagree.

The 40-week wait in Barming is only topped by a village in Hertfordshire but estate agents say the area’s perennial sinkhole problem is not flagged up by buyers and figures suggest the issue may actually be over supply.

The figures comes from the MoveSmart tool which allows sellers and buyers to compare up to three locations at once, to see how homes have been selling, from listing to completion, along with a breakdown of comparable properties for sale or sold within the area and their average prices.

The tool created by national home buying-service Spring reveals that home-owners in Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire can expect the longest wait of 46 weeks.

Barming and the village of Anlaby in the East Ridings of Yorkshire are joint second slowest on 40 weeks.

At the other end of the scale, Bar Hill in Cambridgeshire is the quickest place to sell up, at 12 weeks, with Bayston Hill in Shropshire and Dunsdale in North Yorkshire, second fastest, each on 15 weeks.

Cormac Henderson, the chief executive of Spring said: “While historically you might expect to see a clear north-south divide, the pandemic has created a market not seen before that breaks the mould.”

He said: “Of course demand is not the only factor at play, with availability and quality of local conveyancers playing a big part in overall completion time.

“Historically, city homes have been the fastest to complete, but with fewer people wanting to live in dense urban areas due to new lifestyle choices and flexible working, it is little surprise to see the built up areas like Manchester moving particularly slowly – with supply far outstripping demand.”

The long wait in Barming has been disputed by a local estate agent.

Stewart Carroll is operations director with Simon Miller, an agency with seven branches in the Maidstone area.

He said: “It’s true that perhaps never before have property sales taken so long to reach a conclusion. That’s down to delays with the paperwork on the conveyancing. It’s taking a long time for solicitors to get answers from Land Registry and management packs for flats and that sort of thing. It is frustrating. But that’s a general delay across the area. Barming has been no slower than sales in Bearsted, Maidstone or Headcorn for example.”

He said: “In fact, in the last quarter the Barming area was particularly good for us, with more listings, inquiries and sales than other areas.”

In recent years, there have been several sink-holes emerge in Tonbridge Road and close to Hermitage Lane in the Barming area, we asked whether that was something worrying buyers.

Mr Carroll said: “No, I don’t think so. It’s not an issue I hear raised. I don’t know of any sale that has fallen through because of concerns about sink-holes.”

Richard Ewence is an independent mortgage advisor with 22 years’ experience in the Maidstone area with Rosemount Mortgage Planning, based in Brewer Street, Maidstone.

He too said he had not noticed any particular delay for properties selling in Barming and said he was “baffled” why there should be one.

He said: “There are often delays in having searches returned, but there is no reason why that should be worse in Barming than anywhere else in Maidstone.”

He said: “Of course there has been a pattern of sinkholes in Barming, but I’ve not seen that raised as an issue in any surveys or mortgage reports for properties there.

“It beats me.”

But Mr Ewence said that properties moved fastest when there was not a lot of supply in the area.

If the converse is true, perhaps the explanation is simply one of over-supply.

Barming and the Hermitage Lane corridor have seen huge numbers of new homes recently – around 1,800 either built or under construction.

Buyers might be spoilt for choice.

The MoveSmart tool can be found here.

Spring is a company that provides a house-buying service that frees consumers from the uncertainty and stress of selling their home. They will buy the property at a 9% discount to market valuation on a date selected by the seller, helping to unlock complex buying chains.

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