DEMAND for housing has gone “absolutely ballistic” in some rural towns in Carmarthenshire, according to one estate agent.
With the property market reopened, and quality of life and working from home big considerations for some people, the lure of the countryside is strong.
Jonathan Morgan, the co-owner of BJP estate agents, Llandeilo, said the office had received 1,401 phone calls two Mondays ago – seven times more than they might expect for a day in August.
“It is absolutely ballistic,” said Mr Morgan. “Exceptionally busy.”
He said the overwhelming majority of buyers were English people wanting to move to Wales or Welsh people living in England who wanted to come back.
Mr Morgan said the temporary changes to the land transaction tax had made “no difference”.
Some houses, he said, were sold without the purchaser actually viewing them.
He said the company would like to take on more staff but needed their fees on completion to build up revenue after an exceptionally lean spring, caused by the coronavirus lockdown
“As problems go, they are good problems,” he said.
Llandeilo is one of 10 market towns Carmarthenshire Council wants to help revitalise, focusing on job creation and new ways of delivering services, among other criteria.
Another is Llandovery which, according to estate agent Mick Gough, has struggled since the closure of the secondary school around six years ago.
Mr Gough, chairman of Clee Tompkinson Francis, said: “I would say we have seen strong demand particularly for rural properties with a large garden, and for secluded properties with land.”
He said one home had around 45 viewings booked in.
Mr Gough said there was substantial demand from people in their 30s and 40s who wanted good broadband coverage.
He felt Llandovery could see better days as a result.
“Perhaps there is a silver lining,” he said.
Demand for homes in Newcastle Emlyn has undergone a “massive uplift”, according to a member of staff at the town’s Philip Ling estate agents.
He said calls were coming in from towns and cities in South and East Wales and also across the border.
“People are either looking for second homes or looking to move completely,” he said.
Homes were selling for pretty much the asking price, he said.
“Purchasers are motivated – normally at this time of year you get more browsers,” he added.
The Whitland area is also experiencing a surge of interest, said Catherine Irving-Osborne, of West Wales Properties.
“The market at the moment down here is so busy it’s incredible,” she said.
“We just can’t get enough properties on the market.”
Mrs Irving-Osborne said much of the interest was from England, and that houses from £100,000 to £1 million were being snapped up quickly.
She said she and her husband, who is a director of the company, sold £5.1 million of property from home in July.
“This month we’re more than likely going to reach that target again,” she said.
While vendors may be in a strong position the outlook is less rosy for local buyers.
Council chiefs are keen for young people to stay in their local towns and villages and for their peers who have left the area to return, partly to help sustain the Welsh language.
Around 60% of Carmarthenshire’s population lives in rural areas, which have been hit hard by the closure of banks, shops and post offices.
The Plaid-Cymru-Independent administration has launched a 10 towns initiative, which will be part-funded through a Wales-wide rural development plan.
The focus is on Llandovery, Llandeilo, Cwmamman, Newcastle Emlyn, Llanybydder, St Clears, Laugharne and Whitland, and Kidwelly and Cross Hands later.
The authority has also pledged to build more than 900 council houses across the county over 10 years, and deliver 1,000 affordable homes by 2021 by bringing empty properties back into use and supporting private landlords, among other methods.
Terry Thomas & Co estate agents, which sells property in Laugharne, is also dealing with pent-up demand.
“We were not too sure how it would go (on reopening)”, said a spokeswoman at the company’s Carmarthen headquarters.
“Demand is very busy, to be honest. We’ve had plenty of people enquiring and plenty of people moving into the area.”