We started off 2019 with lots of uncertainty about the Housing Market, the outlook in general for the economy and of course, the impact of Brexit. We end 2019 now knowing Brexit is certain, (although exactly how remains unclear) and major changes to the Housing Market are on the horizon (although exactly when remains unclear). Changes coming will mainly affect the rental market, with the introduction of a Renters Reform Bill, but announcements in the Queens Speech this week do suggest there could be benefits for First Time Buyers in terms of affordability of new homes.
2019 has been a hesitant, rather uncertain year with house price growth and sales volumes sluggish across the country, particularly in the final quarter. However, our local area has bucked the trend, house price growth in Calderdale was reportedly up 6.8% at the end of September, (Land Registry figures). I am pleased to report that personally, we have been successful in maintaining strong sales volumes throughout 2019, despite new instructions – homes coming onto the market – falling by 20% this year. I am very pleased we managed to keep sales volumes stable – it goes to show how good we are at managing and progressing transactions, once the offer has been accepted we continue to work hard all the way through to completion and this year our conversion rate was over 85% (listings to sales). It was of course disappointing to see a lower level of property coming onto the market, but this has been a national story, exacerbated in areas such as ours, where we have a high volume of out of town buyers fighting with local buyers for available property.
It would be foolish to ignore the upsurge in on-line estate agency alternatives – obviously this is having an impact on the new listings for traditional High Street agents. It is galling that anyone can set themselves up as an estate agent and claim to offer a professional service, when they have little or no qualifications or experience and often little local knowledge or insight. On-line companies are often more interested in cross selling their legal and/or financial services and do not offer a comparative full service. Fortunately, our local customers are seldom fooled by faceless corporate companies and really do believe it “keeping it local”. I would urge anyone considering using an on-line only property advertising platform to look carefully into the full costs and terms of business before committing. But watch this space – regulation is coming – this should help differentiate the true professionals from those trying to make a fast buck!
Regulation – lots and lots of regulation – Landlords’s have been bombarded this year with changes and more are certainly on the horizon with the proposed Renters Reform Bill. It became illegal to charge tenants any fees in 2019, be that for referencing or administration. The upshot being that Landlords have inevitably borne these costs (although we have tried our best to minimize the impact.) Soon we will see the introduction of electrical safety checks, minimum standards, longer tenancies and, more significantly the abolition of Section 21 – a no-fault eviction process. Our Landlords are safe in the knowledge that being a Propertymark agent I will keep them up to date regards any changes in the law and any new duties and responsibilities that may impact them.
Still the biggest issue the country faces is a dire lack of available housing – homes to buy and homes to rent. We still seem to lack any meaningful plans as to where and when more homes will be built. Whilst this shortage persists, it is likely that homes in the desirable areas such as the Calder Valley, will continue to be in short supply and consequently in strong demand and as such, our property values will hold up and most likely continue to grow throughout 2020. The Halifax predicts National house price growth for 2020 at between 1-3% although the prospect of a No Deal Brexit still looms, which sees some pundits still warning about potential house price drops. KPMG has been reported as predicting a 6% drop in house prices following a no-deal Brexit.
I am convinced there is a lot of pent up demand to move and this will make for a busy start to the New Year. 2020 should bring improved levels of property coming onto the market and so another year of strong sales. If you are considering a move next year, just make sure you get the best professional advice, give me a call.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, let’s hope 2020 proves as good as it sounds!