THE success of Midhurst Rother College and the promise of Waitrose have seen demand for houses increase in the Midhurst and Petworth area.
But the good news for the town is not necessarily such good news for first-time house-buyers who are facing soaring prices, stiff competition and a limited number of homes to choose from.
Chris Budd has been an estate agent in the area for 26 years and launched his Midhurst based SouthDownProperty Solutions a year ago.
“The success of the new school and its latest great Ofsted report is definitely one factor,” he said.
People who did not even know the Midhurst area were considering moving because of the success of the school.
“I recently had one enquiry from someone living in London who wanted to move here just because of the Midhurst Rother College.”
In addition there was, he said, the attraction of the new Grange community and leisure centre: “and then there is the Waitrose factor.”
With the promise of the upmarket supermarket, Chris said it added to the pull of the town’s housing market.
“All these things make the town more and more in demand, there is a great vibrancy here.”
He said the cost of houses in the area had risen by more than five per cent in the past year and first-time buyers were now looking at price tags of around £250,000 for a typical terraced home.
“A good example of the increase in housing prices is Little Midhurst,” he said “where a three-bedroomed house would have been on the market for between £225,000-£250,000 18 months ago and now it would probably be £265,000-£275,000.”
But with the recent introduction of the government’s help-to-buy scheme reducing the amount first-time buyers have to find for a deposit to five per cent, many have decided now is the time to put their first foot on the ladder.
However, said Chris, there was also pressure from people buying to let as a pension pot.
“These people were generally looking around the £250,000 mark which often puts them in direct competition with first-time buyers.
“It all means, especially in this affluent area, young buyers are relying on the bank of ‘mum and dad’”.
Midhurst Rother College was given an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection in May last year. The academy, which achieved a satisfactory inspection in 2009, had a meteoric rise, achieving outstanding in every category.
Chichester District Council announced in March its preferred buyer for the old Grange Centre site was Kimberley Developments which is working with Waitrose on plans for a new store.