The property market depends on fluidity and activity to be regarded as healthy. This year the number of transactions has been light, based on a dearth of supply. This has itself fed the problem with sellers being reluctant to put their property on the market if they only have a limited choice of onward purchase.
But this seems to be easing. Last month, HMRC reported a 1% increase in transactional volumes – a small but significant step in the right direction that compares very favourably with the 4.3% drop during the previous month (although still 8% down on the same time last year).
There is a feeling that with all the current woes of the world, the market might just be beginning to peak, with an imminent interest rate rise a distinct possibility. According to one national firm of estate agents, buyer demand is down 22% on the year (although we hadn’t noticed) and there are still nine buyers registered for every property available.
Rightmove tells us that the price of property coming to market is on average down 1.1% this month, which is lower than the 1.8% six-year seasonal average. This may indicate a degree of resilience based on low volumes supporting prices. First time buyers (average age 33) are feeling the brunt of this, with a monthly rise of 1.7% for one or two bedroom flats. The pressure might be off FTBs slightly in the short term with the news that letting agency fees for tenants are to be abolished, although this may have the effect of pushing up rents in the medium to long term.
The announcement in the autumn statement by the Chancellor that the government is to inject £2.3billion into housing is certainly to be welcomed, although is unlikely to have any effect on actual supply for at least two to three years.
Annually, the Land Registry reports average house prices across the UK are up 7.7% at £217,888, reflecting some stability in the market during a politically turbulent year.
Stability and confidence, which are key to the security homeowners have in the UK property market, appear to be in abundance, making this as good a time as ever to consider a move. And, in view of the intense portal viewing activity over Christmas (about double that of other times of year), it might not be a bad idea to consider putting your property on the market the same day you start your Christmas shopping.
Why not call us for some well-considered, straight-talking advice? You might be pleasantly surprised!
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents