The weather may be hot, but the market is definitely cooling
Jack Merriott, Director, Cross Keys Estate Agents
We have been experiencing some truly barmy weather these last few months, rain and hot sunshine all in the same week sometimes. Record breaking temperatures all across the United Kingdom saw packed out beaches with everyone trying to keep their cool, hot sticky nights leading to sales of electric fans and ice cream sales go through the roof, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the housing market.
I thought I would try to write an upbeat piece for this article and keep it positive and say that everything is just fine but the truth is the market has changed from the madness of high prices, gazumping, record levels of viewings and offers from the spring. As I am sat here writing this, I am wondering how to put a positive spin on it, should I sugar-coat it, perhaps soften it as to not start readers worrying if house prices are about to start falling. The honest answer is “No”, I am not going to change the type of person that I am, nor start to mislead people by telling blatant untruths.
We started to see a change in levels of activity around the beginning of June, at first, we though it might be because summer was here and that potential sellers and buyers were now concentrating on their holidays and outdoor living rather than possibly moving property, but as the weeks went on, we saw that the levels of internet enquiries, viewings and telephone calls were continuing to decline.
Estate agents do not speak in foreign languages (despite common opinion) but we do know the secret codes that are sometimes spoken between each other, so when you have at least four other local agents ask “So how are you finding the market?” you absolutely know that what they are really saying is “are you struggling with the market at the moment?” and we also know that this means that THEY are struggling with the current market conditions.
Now in order to understand why the residential sales market is changing, we need to look at what is happening not only here in the UK but everywhere. Inflation is rising from Sri Lanka to America and all across the world. Interest rates are rising and are set to continue to rise into early next year with current plans as they are. Usually this means that the value of property would normally start to fall to compensate for this, but as there are a lot fewer properties coming to the market at the current time, property values are holding their own. As we get nearer to Christmas, on the other hand, and everyone starts to spend their money of the festivities, I predict that we will see more and more people heading in to deeper financial difficulties due to the rise in the cost of living and the fact that absolutely everything is going up in price.
This may be starting to sound like doom and gloom but it is simply another adjustment to bring economies in to line and under control.
If the demographic of people, that I suspect, start finding themselves in financial distress, then these will be the first section of society to start selling off their assets including any properties that they own. Depending on what level of distress they are in, will mean that they may be prepared to sell at lower prices than necessary in order to stem their financial insecurities. That is when we will more than likely see property prices start their downward trajectory.
Governments all around the globe are trying to put things in place to ensure that this is not another recession but unless inflation is brought under control and soon, we may well see the UK head in to recession once again. Inflation in the US rose to 9.1% last month, driven by higher prices for gasoline, food and accommodation. That is well above the federal bank's 2% target - and the fastest rate since 1981. CPIH, which is the measure of inflation published by the Office of National Statistics, including the rising cost of housing, is officially running at 8.2% in the 12 months to June 2022. However, Truflation's newly launched UK index shows CPIH running at 13.8% in the 12 months to 24 July - nearly two-thirds higher and 6% more in real terms.
In conclusion to this article, all I can say is, if you are currently borrowing finance, you may want to get them locked in at their current rate for a suitable period to avoid the cost of borrowing becoming unaffordable. If you about to take out a mortgage, personally, I would be looking at fixed rate product. If you are looking to sell a property then now is the right time to consider putting it on the market as tomorrow’s market will not get you the same price as selling today.
Here at Cross Keys Estates we are currently seeing levels of new instructions to the market remain steady, but we are always looking to keep the status quo, so please give us a call and see if our honest, no-nonsense, no faff approach is what you need to help you sell your property and ensure you do not find yourself caught up in the situation outlined above.