August is a tricky time to comment on the property market. The market is usually understandably subdued during the prime holiday season, but this is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is because those sellers who would have liked to have entered the market during the summer delay doing so, in the belief that the hottest spring buyers have probably found somewhere by now, or are on holiday.
This is one of the greatest faux-pas a seller can make. Serious buyers are serious buyers, and they will probably put their house-hunting activities way ahead of any holiday plans for this year at least. Spring 2017 was hardly deluged with fresh stock and many buyers remain active. This is one of the reasons that prices have generally been upheld during this apparently quieter period, with the average house price now being reported by the Land Registry as £223,257, a respectable 4.9% annual increase.
Interestingly, Rightmove is reporting a slowdown in asking prices at just 3.1% against this time last year. While this may not bode well for prices actually being achieved in the autumn, it does reflect a more realistic response by sellers to the confusing economic and political forces at play.
Indeed, many London commuter-town estate agents are reporting price reductions in 35%-44% of their stock. Provincial towns are doing much better than this with eg Salford and Edinburgh experiencing reductions in just 11% of their stock. Price reductions do of course often result in sales for frustrated sellers, but it remains to be seen whether a further reduction may be required. The very strict mortgage qualification criteria currently in place are certainly not helping matters.
Fortunately, holiday season or not, we have continued to see impressive sales over the summer, with minimal price reductions. Proactivity is the key, and it’s our secret weapon against those of our competitors who allow a perceived holiday season slowdown to hinder their clients’ onward move.
As we ramp up further for what we expect will be a particularly strong autumn market, we’d be pleased to hear from you if you have any plans, however tentative, about a possible move. We offer straight-talking good advice, and never forget that our role is to help you maximize current market conditions – to your significant advantage!
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA MIRPM
Chief Executive Officer