The latest Halifax data shows that UK property prices went up for the third month in a row in December 2023. Meanwhile, some major lenders are already cutting mortgages in expectation of a sooner-than-expected dip in interest rates.

And, according to the Guardian, three leading forecasters have predicted that the inflation rate could halve to 2% by April, meaning the Bank of England could bring forward its first interest rate cut to as early as the spring. So not only are things looking better for the market than you may have thought, the crash that some predicted simply never happened.

Nonetheless, challenges for sellers are set to remain throughout the year, as the buyers’ market continues to grow. This has led one industry insider to stress the importance of agents’ negotiating skills, highlighting it in an interview for one key website for the sector.

In recent years, with all the frenetic activity and scramble to move house following the Covid pandemic, during which it has been more of a seller’s market, these skills arguably haven’t been so badly needed. However, the founder and director of one firm of independent experts in estate agency training has said that the need for skilled agents is now greater than ever, so things are changing.

She told industry journalists: “Both buyers and sellers have come to demand more help and greater levels of advice”.

Stressing that this trend would increase throughout 2024 and beyond, she put the “real shift” down to the greater price fluctuations we’ve seen, the more frequent legislative changes and the reduction in the use of online agents.

So sharp negotiations are set to come back into fashion, as buyers grow increasingly sensitive to asking prices, and many offers made fall below the original asking figure.

These skills are badly needed when it comes to negotiating price changes, and managing expectations on price even before a property first goes on to the market.

Another key factor is that we’re almost certainly in an election year. And some believe that if Labour win, agents could need a higher level of qualifications, which again will have an impact.

Oakfield says

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we know that finding a buyer for a property is just half the job. Any agent worth their salt must be hands-on throughout a sales process, not just at the start.

We know of too many agents who, having found a purchaser, leave the solicitors to sort out the rest. But this approach can mean that the sale or purchase just ends up taking much longer. Not only that, but there is also a greater risk of the sale falling through completely, leaving you without a buyer or a new home, yet still having to pay the solicitor’s bill.

Our approach is different. We work closely with both parties’ solicitors to deal with any issues which may  crop up quickly and efficiently. We know that if we did nothing once buyer and seller were introduced, this would cause needless anxiety, with a potential for escalation into an even greater concern.

Legislation is constantly changing, and there are any number of potential hurdles to clear whether you’re buying or selling, so it really is essential you have a skilled, hands-on agent who understands the whole process inside out, from start to finish.

At the same time, many people opt for a cheap conveyancing firm to act for them, in the hope of saving a few hundred quid. But this often proves to be a false economy, costing time and sometimes money further down the line.

At Oakfield, we’re with our buyers from start to finish, every step of the way. And we agree that the negotiating ability of quality estate agents is needed now more than ever.

With offices across Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings, we’ve worked in the local property market in East Sussex since the 1990s, and so bring a huge amount of talent and expertise to every transaction we work on.

Talk to us today about how you could benefit from our extensive experience and skills as you plot your next move, whether you’re buying, selling, letting out a home or looking for somewhere to rent in our area. Check out our website for our contact details here.