Tentative green shoots for market as Spring approaches
Despite the brake on house-price growth, the market, as well as economic outlook, is showing tentative green shoots as we head towards spring, says Member of The Guild of Property Professionals, Ronnie Clarke, Managing Director of Castles Estate Agents.
He notes that there has been a welcome fall in mortgage rates, with rates of below 4% for lower loan-to-value mortgages. “Typical costs of a two-year deal and five-year fixed-rate mortgage have fallen back to where they were in October 2022, despite the Bank of England Bank Rate rising by 1.75% during this period. There has also been a rise in the number of mortgage products, with over 4,000 different products now available. According to Zoopla, the number of days a product is available before it is withdrawn has also increased. It is now at 28 days, which is up from just 15 days in January, the highest level since March 2022,” adds Ronnie.
He continues saying that the housing market and economy are closely interlinked, and despite the rising cost of living, the rate of inflation has slowed and is expected to fall back over the course of the year. Employment levels remain strong, GDP forecasts are improving, and any recession is expected to be less severe than first predicted. Prices are softening but many sellers continue to be over-optimistic on price. With supply returning to more normal levels, up 60% compared to a year ago, there is more choice for prospective purchasers with Zoopla reporting the average discount to asking price is currently 4.5%.
“Looking at property prices, after two years of unsustainable rises, an expected price moderation in 2023 is not a surprise. The latest figures from Nationwide show that national price growth has moderated from 11% in the summer of 2022 to -1.1% in February 2023. Across the regions, annual price growth at the end of December remained firmly in positive territory, but the start of 2023 has seen prices start to moderate. Rightmove report that at just £14, the rise in new seller asking prices in February was the smallest-ever increase from January to February, with month-on-month asking prices recording marginal falls in nearly half of all UK regions,” Ronnie comments.
He adds that over past two years the property sector experienced a wave of activity, however the market is now stabilising and pausing for breath as stock levels and time taken to secure a sale are gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. With buyers currently in the driving seat, sellers will have to show greater realism on price to get their sale across the line.
“Looking specifically at Herts, Beds & Cambs, the most active areas include Dacorum, Central Bedfordshire and St Albans. According to Rightmove, the average time currently taken to sell a property in Hertfordshire is 59 days to sell. Houses remain the most sought-after property choice for new buyers across the market, but the proportion of prospective purchasers seeking apartments has risen. Of the sales recorded in Herts, Beds & Cambs, 16.7% of all property sales in the region during 2022 were apartments,” Ronnie concludes.
The Guild of Property Professionals (The Guild)
The Guild is a network of over 800 of the best independent estate agents from across the UK. The Guild is a sign of professional excellence that agents can use to differentiate themselves from their competitors and assure clients that they will act with knowledge and integrity to achieve results, the three core values of The Guild. To allow agents to perform a superior service, The Guild offers marketing, business and technology services to its members.