It is the time of year when I start to prepare a year end news letter or summary and talk about predictions for the new year ahead. Summarising 2018 is easy enough but predicting the market for 2019 really is rather tricky. I don’t want to mention the “B” word but it has started to have an effect and everything really does seem up in the air at the moment.
We started 2018 with really low property stocks, it was the same across the country. We had fewer people wanting to sell their properties but an ever increasing supply of buyers looking to move to the area. I am glad to say that in 2018 saw more homes come onto the market, our listings were up by over 50%. This meant we inevitably sold more houses in 2018 – with sales up 25% on the previous year. In fact, our sales for 2018 were buoyant, our best figures since 2010, a time when the stock levels were so much higher. What does this mean – well, with a sales to listings conversion running over 80% it means we are good at what we do!
There are mixed messages about the property market circling about the media at the moment. The market always quietens down in the run up to Christmas but we are fortunate to be located in an area that is still doing well. The London and Southern market really has slowed down and prices there seem to be stagnating. However, in the North, it is a different story. Manchester is still a hot spot and towns such as Hebden Bridge and Todmorden benefit from the Leeds and Manchester over-spill. We are protected by our large neighbours to a certain extent. What’s more, we simply do not have the supply of housing, very few new homes have been built in our valley, so the existing stock just continues to grow in value. We are still much more affordable than the major cities and of course the Calder valley is a beautiful place to live. Our December sales are still nice and healthy and I suspect this will continue for some time yet.
I am pleased to report a few more First Time Buyers have entered into the market this year. It is always nice selling someone their first home, especially when they are local people fortunate enough to have been able to get onto the housing ladder. There is no doubt about it, there are lots of incentives for First Time Buyers today; low interest rates and Help to Buy ISAs, so if they can just manage to get that all important 10% deposit, then it is a good time to buy. Certainly there is no sign that rents will fall, so buying makes great sense. Many people feel that the changes looming next year in the private rental sector are going to push up rents considerably, but until legislation is passed we will have to wait and see.
As for 2019 predictions . . .
RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) has published their report suggesting the housing market will weaken in 2019, with sales volumes falling as much as 5% and house price growth stagnating. They worry about affordability and quote ONS statistics showing that house prices are now a greater multiple of earnings since records began. However, their findings are on a national level and do not reflect the differences in local market conditions.
The Bank of England’s Mark Carney made a very rash statement last month, suggesting that a No Deal Brexit could see up to 35% knocked off property values. But he was painting a worst case scenario here and there is little real evidence to back this up.
The Financial Times has an interesting article, highlighting the new North-South divide . . .
I think it is worth noting just how few predictions there actually are about 2019 – the key theme at the moment seems to be uncertainty and I guess until Brexit is resolved, one way or another, nobody really knows what the housing market will do.