The latest news from the property market is still pointing upwards. When will that change?
‘The simple fact is that there are more buyers in the UK than homes on the market.’ These are the words of Stephen King of King West, a chartered surveyor in the East Midlands who — like the rest of us — has been trying to predict what will happen next in the market. Halifax figures released this week show the fastest monthly rise in house prices for six months, and while both interest rates and living costs are rising, the former in particular are still extremely low by historic standards.
Can anything slow the market down? In some areas the party still seems to be in full swing — at least according to Sam Butler of Cotswolds-based Butler Sherborn. ‘We have the stock, the market is robust, buzzing and buoyant,’ he says.
‘We booked over 70 viewings in three days for a property launched in Cirencester at a guide price of £725,000 and will go to best and final offers. Demand seems to be insatiable.’
Last week we heard from experts who are worried that the end is in sight, but is it possible that buyers have already factored in the cost of living increases? Are the worst of the price shocks already in plain sight — known knowns, if you want to be Rumsfeldian about it? Or — as has depressingly often been the case in the last five years — are there more unpleasant surprises ahead?
Mike Scott, Chief Analyst at estate agency Yopa, suggests that we’ll see a soft landing as supply and demand come back into sync. ‘The rate of growth will slow down in the second half of the year, as interest rates rise further and cost of living increases start to bite,’ he says. ‘However we do not anticipate that the market will turn around completely, with prices starting to fall. It will take more than one year to rebuild the stock of homes for sale to a more normal level.’
As ever with homes we’ll never know for sure who is right, and by the time we are in a position to assess the crystal ball gazers everyone will already have moved on to trying to figure out the next problem. If you’re one of those trying to figure it out in the here and now, we wish you the best of luck. And Stephen King’s parting shot — ‘homeowners thinking of selling their house are advised to put it on the market sooner rather than later in order to capitalise on the current climate’ — feels like decent advice.
Exquisite homes in Devon, Yorkshire and Oxfordshire are among the wonders in our round-up of the best homes for sale