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By Nat Daniels

CEO, Angels Media


Property Natter – property is holding its own despite the turmoil

I can’t really write about anything else this week, can I? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen that Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister on Thursday after only 45 days in office.

This makes her the UK’s shortest-serving PM ever and comes after a hugely turbulent period in which the disastrous mini-Budget spooked the markets, sent mortgage rates soaring, saw the pound crash and led to emergency intervention from the Bank of England.

Just weeks later she sacked her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and replaced him with Jeremy Hunt, who then subsequently reversed nearly all parts of her tax-cutting agenda and pointed to swingeing cuts to public spending and tax rises at the planned fiscal event on October 31.

Less than a week after that, Home Secretary Suella Braverman was sacked after sending a sensitive document via her personal email, but her resignation letter was a carefully coded dig at Truss in which she raised concerns about the direction of the party.

After this followed a chaotic vote on fracking which led to accusations of bullying and Tory MPs being manhandled into voting with the government.

As more and more MPs came out against Truss, and her political authority was smashed to pieces, her position had clearly become untenable, and she had to go. She even got outlasted by a lettuce!

Now we face another Conservative Party leadership election, only a month and a bit after the last one ended, although the opposition parties are understandably pushing for a general election with the Tories currently so weak and way behind in the polls. Given recent events, it’s hard to disagree with the fact that a general election might be required to bring some sense of stability and sense to the heart of power. And to give people the chance to decide. On the other hand, some would argue the Tories still have a mandate to govern after their emphatic win in 2019.

Some polls we ran on LinkedIn and Twitter in the aftermath of Truss’s resignation found the vast majority of our readers are in favour of the country going back to the polls. 

While another general election, two years before the next one is due, would bring its own instabilities – and the Tories’ are absolutely certain not to call one while so far behind in the polls – many are arguing that it’s the only choice. At the time of writing, a petition calling for a general election has garnered nearly 760,000 signatures. Meanwhile, a YouGov poll revealed that 63% of voters would like the new PM - whoever that is - to call a general election. 

Whatever your political allegiance, no-one wants to see Britain be a laughing stock on the world stage – and how can it not be at the moment, with a PM resigning after only 45 days despite, in theory, having a more than 70-seat majority? How can it not be when we’ll shortly be onto our third PM this year, our third Home Secretary and potentially our fifth Chancellor?

Jeremy Hunt has done a good job of steadying the markets and bringing key institutions back on board, and the speed at which the latest leadership contest will be completed – with a new PM named by October 28 (next Friday) – should help to bring a bit more stability.

But there is likely to be a bit more turmoil and churn as the new PM sets out their stall and appoints their own new team. It’s likely that there will also be both a new Housing Secretary and Housing Minister (again!).

All the above being said, there is an argument that some of the talk surrounding the property market has been overdone and a tad sensationalist. There was an interesting LinkedIn post from well-known industry figure Chris Watkin this week, using stats from TwentyEA, which showed that – in the week to Saturday 15 October 2022 (the day after Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked) – more than 21,000 sales were agreed and there were over 32,000 new property listings, as well as more than 19,000 price changes.

Admittedly, 8,498 sales fell through – 2,000 more than the 2022 weekly average – but, overall, it didn’t paint the grim view of the market that has perhaps been pushed in the national media.

The mini-Budget clearly had an impact, sending mortgage rates soaring, but speculation of price drops of 10-15% in 2023 always seemed a little over the top. The market had been preparing for a slight slowdown from the post-pandemic highs even before the chaos caused by Truss and co, and things don’t seem to be as disastrous as is being claimed.

House prices hit a new record high just this week, while demand is still continuing to hold up and sellers still seem willing to list.

The experience of Brexit, Covid, the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis has made the property market very resilient – perhaps more than any other industry – and that seems to be the case through this latest (self-inflicted) crisis.

The fundamentals of the property market remain the same and, while that is the case, things will remain fairly stable.

There seems little doubt that things are going to get tougher for agents over the next few months and years, but as has been pointed out quite a few times before, there are potential opportunities as well.

Agents can use PropTech products, good old-fashioned marketing and advertising and other avenues to guard against any slowdown and create new revenue streams.

We need to recreate the ‘we’re all in this together’ mindset that became prominent during Covid, and work on innovative ways to get the property market functioning at its peak level.

It’s not all doom and gloom, despite the pervading narrative. Here at Angels Media and The ValPal Network, we are doing all we can to improve our processes and our customer service in a more challenging market – whether that be social media, content, marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing or the breaking news and features we have on the Today sites.

For the property industry as a whole, there is the need to evolve, to innovate, to think outside the box – like we all did during Covid. There are so many brilliant people and companies in this industry of ours – as last week’s ESTAS proved yet again – and we can help set the agenda for other industries to follow.

Maybe I should nominate myself? Nat4PM! Joking, of course…although could I, or any of us, really do any worse right now?

Until next time…     

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.


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