Buying and selling in Brockley

This week, we moved house. We only moved around the corner, so we still get to run this blog, although BT is currently doing its best to thwart us.

After a tortuous six month process, we can offer the following observations:

1. The Brockley property market is frenetic at the moment. We moved to Brockley in 2006, when the last property boom was nearing its height. It was horrible. This time around, we’d been fortifying ourselves for the experience by reassuring ourselves that it would be calmer. It wasn’t. If anything, the scramble for homes in the area was far more intense than last time.

The first place we made an offer for, we bid a few per cent below the asking price. Our friends told us we were chicken and should have struck a harder bargain. They were way off. Our below-asking-price offer was politely declined and a cash bidder snapped it up a day or two later for the full price.

The second place we made an offer for, we were determined not to let escape our grasp. We saw it the day it came on the market and made a full price offer the same day. The estate agent responded nonchalantly and told us to join the queue. There were several other people willing to do the same. It went to “best and final offers” by midday. We “won” that process but lived with the constant threat of our vendors pulling out and "remarketing it" if we didn’t exchange pronto.

Similarly, we got a full-asking-price offer within a few days of our place appearing online. Based on our experience buying the house in 2006, we expected the process to take a lot longer. But available family homes are in short supply in Brockley, so it went almost straight away. Over the last year, we've observed homes that might once have been expected to sit on the market for months go under offer in days.

Local estate agent Roy Brooks recently shared with us some data from Right Move which shows that Brockley is among the most-searched for areas in South East London. Last month alone, they recored over 35,000 searches for Brockley, putting it way ahead of Honor Oak (10,000), Nunhead (11,000), Camberwell (18,000), Peckham (29,000) and East Dulwich (30,000)  in the rankings, although Forest Hill, Greenwich and Blackheath are the leaders.

2. Prices have risen a lot over the last seven years – ours went up by about 60% over that time – we dread to think what the one we bought went up by. The rises should come as a surprise to no-one, but we can confirm it through gritted teeth. Occasionally, BC is accused of property price boosterism. If that’s been our secret strategy all along, then it’s backfired spectacularly. Anyway, boo-hoo - we appreciate that we are very fortunate to be able to buy in Brockley at all. We wouldn’t have chosen to remain in Brockley at any cost, but we’re delighted to be able to stay put, as we love it here.

3. We have good things to say about the following estate agents we encountered along the way: Winkworth, who handled both our sale and our purchase and who managed to whip buyers up into a frenzy on both occasions, Rococdells, whose local knowledge and proactivity was impressive, and Kershaws, who really know houses. There were others who were rude and / or seemed to go out of their way not to help you buy any of the properties they purported to be selling.

We also got the opportunity to use loads of tradespeople recommended on Brockley Central and had good experience with them all, so thank you for all your suggestions. We will do a round-up of those people separately.