3 January 2020
The decision to market a property is not something most people do on a whim, it takes a lot of thought and planning.
If it’s your home, moving might mean a change of commute, moving children to a new school and taking on more DIY than you could shake a paintbrush at.
With this in mind for many sellers 2019 was a year of disappointment as life-changing plans were put on hold when, after all of the preparations, their property failed to sell.
At first, estate agents were nonplussed. Many had never known a challenging market but it was now happening. Gone were the days of simply putting a property on Rightmove and waiting for the buyers to flood in. Despite fewer properties coming to market, buyer numbers also declined. And things were made more difficult when agents realised that even the buyers who were looking were slow to commit, and when they did, they wanted a bargain.
Afterall, they were being told by the press that the property market was on the brink of collapse, that Brexit fears had led to a flight of wealth from the country, overseas buyers were staying away, nobody wanted a property here anymore.
In part yes. There’s no doubt that before making a massive financial commitment, most people want stability – something that was lacking from much of the last year!
However, we should never underestimate the unique British trait of wanting to own a home which meant that despite all of the fears, many thousands of people were able to move, albeit that they were the luckier ones.
The buy to let market, responsible for huge sales volumes at the lower end of the market did evaporate but not just because of political uncertainty. Many landlords were just beginning to feel the full effects of tax changes that could turn small profits on rent into big losses and a whopping 3% extra Stamp Duty on new purchases didn’t help. A happy side effect of this decline is the opportunity now afforded to First Time Buyers now looking in a less crowded marketplace.
Well despite the issues, I sense a pent-up demand from every type of buyer. My estate agent friends report good levels of enquiries already this year and the cautious re-emergence of investor buyers too, probably all too aware of the poor rate of return on money left in banks.
First Timers are beginning to look and there are many more ‘if I can sell mine I’ll move up’ buyers too. My expectation is that the market will begin to recover slowly in January and will hold it’s breath around the 31st, when the reality of the EU exit will make a few waver but as we approach Spring, we can look forward to a buoyant property market with demand for all types of property, from all types of buyer.
Will this leave any room from professional property buyers such as NAPB members?
I speak to members regularly and I’m yet to hear anyone who isn’t increasing their capacity for 2020. Getting more funds ready, increasing advertising and employing more staff in readiness for busier times is the common theme for cash property buyers.
Hopefully 2020 will be a much more positive year in property – all of the ingredients are there for a busy 12 months ahead!
Jonathan Rolande MNAEA MICBA MARLA began in the property business in the late 1980’s and is a Director of House Buy Fast and helped to found The National Association of Property Buyers in 2013. He has worked closely with The Property Ombudsman to develop a Code of Practice for Residential Property Buying Companies.