Monthly Archives: January 2019

February Market Comment

FEBIt’s a funny old thing, the British housing market. Just when you might expect the political uncertainty prompted by the “B” word to dull the market further, it leaps! That’s the way things look from where we’re standing anyway! Not only have we experienced an extremely strong start to the year, both in terms of new instructions and offers agreed, but this appears to be supported across the board.

For example, a founder of MyHomeMove, a major conveyancing firm, reported that they had received (and processed) some 1,400 conveyancing enquiries last weekend alone! Surely this is an indication of a market that has decided to keep calm and carry on moving! This is mirrored by a 5.3% increase in mortgage approvals complimenting a 5.8% decrease in remortgaging (source UK Finance Data). In other words, people are once more moving rather than improving.

Along with the inevitably optimistic perspectives of your average estate agent (although nobody has ever accused us of being average) these are front-end figures that take a snapshot of how the market is right now – not Building Society completions or Land Registry figures (often four to six months months out of date), nor ONS figures (based on the Land Registry). Our instruction levels are up, our offers are up and our sales arranged are up. Even some prices are up too!

According to the NAEA, the stock of properties overall is also on the rise – by 20% on last year and the highest it has been for four years. However, we do not expect this to negatively impact on house prices, as there is still a lot of pent-up demand, especially from people who thought the choice of properties to buy was limited; so they sat tight. But now they are moving again with the NAEA reporting that overall demand is up 13% on this time last year.

The confusion and uncertainty of Brexit has effectively lasted two years. People are now tiring of it, and are clearly refocusing on getting on with their lives. As ever, the economists missed this one, so if your intention is to consider a move this year – you might just want to bring that forward a bit and take advantage of what appears to be an early spring to kick-start your plans. And when you’re ready, we’ll be here to help. It’s what we do!

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January Market Comment

January Maket CommentThe media would have us believe that the property market is nursing a New Year’s party hangover. Certainly the issues that influenced the market during 2018 remain, such as Brexit-related confusion, lack of supply and affordability problems for first time buyers. And whilst the media does love to scaremonger, they tend to ignore, the perhaps rather boring reality, that the UK property market is actually surprisingly resilient.

Property has always been generally low-risk and any annual capital appreciation over 3% can be regarded as a bonus. For most people, property is a home more than an investment – albeit a tax efficient one. Most homeowners are quite satisfied if the value of their property more or less keeps up with or exceeds inflation, which, even over the turbulent year of 2018, it has. The latest ONS figures suggest that the average UK house price has risen by 2.7% over the last year, compared with inflation of around 2.2%pa.

But what’s in store for 2019? As far as we’re concerned it’s very much business as usual and we’d even go so far as to say that all forecasts that quote projected figures can be ignored, as even the “experts” cannot agree – nobody knows what will happen with the Brexit mess, let alone any effect on the property market. Just look at the spread of 2019 house price forecasts from the following authorities, who are no better informed over the outcome of Brexit than the man down the pub:

Capital Economics: 1% up
Halifax: 2%-4% up
Hamptons/Countrywide: 0.5% down
Hometrack: 2% up
JLL: 0.5% up
Office for Budget Responsibility: 3.1% up
PWC: 2.8% up
RICS: 0% : 1% down
Rightmove: 0%
Savills: 0.5% up

History tells us that it is confidence levels that tend to exert the greatest influence on supply, demand and prices in the property sector. If the confusion over the past 18 months has not had a significantly detrimental effect on the market, then this surely proves that the market is reassuringly robust, and buyers and sellers alike need not worry about making a wrong move, as the market is unlikely to either rocket or crash.

Perhaps of more interest to home-movers over the past year has been the failure of internet-only estate agencies, with around a third of the top names no longer trading. According to Which?, over 92% of sellers prefer to use a “traditional” estate agent than any online alternative. The lure of apparently cheap fees turns out to be a classic false economy, not least because these low-value agencies have no incentive to proactively sell a property for the highest price. Additionally, in a low-volume market, chain management becomes paramount and it seems somewhat ridiculous that sellers should entrust the sale of their greatest asset to a DIY platform. Most people realise that it’s not just about finding a buyer!

Here at Richard James Estate Agents, we are very much looking forward to the year ahead. We thrive on challenge and delivering creative, results-driven, solutions for local homemovers. A final word of caution though; this year, if you’re thinking of moving, don’t wait until the Spring, as you may find yourself competing with too many other sellers jumping on the bandwagon, thereby suppressing prices. Just a thought – and please feel free to call us for our personal attention and an accountable service on 01933 224400. Happy New Year!

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