Who Will Buy...
As part of our Credit Crunch series, BBC Cornwall's Special Correspondent has been looking at the current state of the housing market in the county, and meets one woman who is desperately trying to sell her property...
The housing market is facing a worrying time. Banks are reducing the amount of money they are lending, making mortgages more tricky, and there have been reports that residential properties are selling at the rate of one a week.
A retired teacher, Jean Woolcock, faces the same plight as hundreds, probably thousands, of people across Cornwall. She can't sell her house.
House prices and the number of properties sold have plummeted since the start of the credit crunch last year.
Jean, 69, lives at Probus, between Truro and St Austell. She wants to move nearer the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske where her husband, Joe, 78, goes for regular treatment.
Probus near Truro
Her house went on the market in February and almost immediately she thought they'd found a buyer.
She said: "We'd seen a flat in Truro which would have made it so much easier for us as we have to travel three times a week. My husband has to have dialysis so we thought to be in Truro would have been much easier for us both, especially during the winter months.
"The flat was ideal for us and, of course, unfortunately when our sale fell through we also lost the flat at that time."
Since then Jean has reduced the asking price of her house from £215,000 to £205,00 and then to £199,950. And she's moved to a new estate agent. But still there's little interest among would-be buyers.
"It would be quite nice if somebody just came through the door even if they didn't buy it, if they just came to look around. Yes, I do despair sometimes, yes, I'm quite disappointed sometimes," Jean says.
Hard times for Estate Agents
Nick Parrett says he's never seen anything like it in 39 years as an estate agent.
"Times are hard at the moment and we've had good times over the last few years. Some people would say, well, you know, it's a redressing of the balance but we'll see," he says.
Estate agents across Cornwall are closing branches and laying off staff as house prices tumble and the number of properties sold falls steeply. It started to go wrong for estate agents when the credit crunch started to bite last year. They admit that it follows years of unprecedented boom.
Nick Parrett is the office manager at Your Move's branch in Truro. The company has closed offices at Falmouth and St Ives during the past three months.
Estate Agent Nick Parrett
Nick says the number of houses being sold has nearly halved since the market peaked in 2006. Then, he says, houses were selling within hours.
"I don't lie awake at night worrying about it. I do occasionally wake up thinking I must phone Mrs Jones and advise her that we need to reduce her price now because otherwise it could be worse in a couple of months," he says.
Estate agents in Cornwall say that the slump has prompted a big increase in the lettings market. Many home owners, they say, are putting off selling in the hope that prices start rising again.
Nick adds: "We hope that perhaps next year we'll get back to a normal market."
last updated: 09/10/2008 at 08:08