With all the doom and gloom currently gracing the property pages of the newspapers, you would be forgiven for thinking the best thing to do is lock your doors, shut the curtains and wait until it all blows over. However, as the numbers are increasingly showing, the green shoots of recovery are emerging across the UK.
On first reading, the April edition of the RICS residential market survey says what we already know: market activity has been muted so far this year. However, and far more importantly, it reveals how things are starting to improve. While there are still many surveyors reporting a fall in the number of buyer inquiries, the number reporting a rise has significantly increased, with expectations for further growth in the coming months. In London, this is the first time in 12 months a rising number of buyer inquiries has been reported.
Anecdotally, we are hearing more and more stories from across our network that suggest the thawing of the prime property market is well underway. At this stage of the market cycle, it is inevitable that buyers will increasingly perceive the market to have ‘bottomed out’. When this happens, they will rapidly pile back into the market in order to capture as much capital inflation as possible from that next cycle. Savvy and well-advised homeowners who ‘time their run’ in the prime market will always be the biggest winners.
Currently, the Government’s main housing priority is making housing more accessible – a sure-fire vote-winner. It appears to be working; the rising number of first-time buyers is the most interesting part of the mortgage market data we look at. This is relevant to the prime market because heightened activity at the lower end will filter upwards. After all, each sub-market of UK residential is inextricably intertwined, from the first-time buyer market at the bottom of the property ladder to the premium market at the top.
We are very confident that the ice is starting to melt in the prime property market. However, we must all bear in mind that the meteoric rise in prime prices experienced by many parts of the country after the credit crunch will probably not be seen again. These gains came on the back of global financial turmoil which caused high-net-worth individuals around the world to move their money into the safe haven of central London residential assets. We are going to see a very positive upswing, but it will be in the context of the ‘new normal’. While there is still some volatility in the prime UK property market, it is clear there are myriad opportunities to be taken advantage of right now, and the best way to maximise the potential of these opportunities is by working with a local market expert.
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