Posted on 1st December 2018

Christmas Cheer for the Property Market

Martin Williamson, Director & Head of Residential Property
Martin Williamson, Director & Head of Residential Property

It’s Christmas! Forgive me, I appreciate it’s not actually Christmas quite yet, although some of us are undoubtedly suffering from a potent dose of “premature festivitis”, it’s certainly beginning to feel like Christmas in the property world.

Property Lawyers become increasingly busy towards the end of the year with buyers wanting to ensure their purchase completes before Christmas so they can get their tree up and the turkey (or nut roast) in the oven in their brand new home.

I’ve been chatting to some of my friends and colleagues in estate agency, locally, to get a sense of how they’re feeling about the current state of the property market and whether the season of good will, or the winter of discontent (in Westminster, at least), is having an impact on sales. And of course, what about the “B” word? I speak, not of bells, baubles or brandy butter, but the much-debated “Brexit”.

At first glance, the fruits of my labour seem to paint a downbeat picture for the property market, with all those surveyed indicating that there has been a fall in the number of listings over the past six weeks. However, when you factor in the Christmas downturn, the consensus view seems to suggest that this is typical of the time of year, with more people wanting to relax, enjoy the festivities at home, and often, wait until the spring to consider selling up and moving on. 

Some felt, however, that the outlook this year was worse than last year, with Simon Wright of Robinsons saying: “There is a traditional slowdown in the housing market from around the end of October all through to mid-January. But it does appear to be quieter this year than this time last year.”

Some thought that the Brexit debacle was having an impact, while others dismissed the impression national politics has on the property market at a regional level. Of those who felt that Brexit was creating fallout, the majority view was that there was more “circumstantial” and less “aspirational” moving. In laymen’s terms, in the current financial world, more homeowners are moving out of necessity, for example, employment reasons, rather than out of a desire to shuffle up the property ladder. 

Accordingly, while the majority felt that property prices have been static in the area for some years, the propensity of buyers to do so for economic reasons, has reportedly driven demand in more rural and highly sought after, commuter villages. On the speed of sales, while we all know this is very much an art, not a science, and depends entirely on the nature of the property, the agents did not feel that there had been a slowdown. They agree that correctly priced and marketed, a property should still receive an offer within six to eight weeks on the market.

So, it’s a muddy picture, and not just because of all the rain we’ve been having, but because there are a lot of factors at play in the property world. We may all be growing tired of hearing about international political turmoil, but from the look of things, its impact may be yet to come. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the Christmas wind-down, when it finally comes around.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.