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Property Natter - Please don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

So Christmas is coming – soon. Traditionally a time for reflection on what’s past and prediction on what’s to come.

Last week there was a glimmer of optimism about the place and why not? Inflation is on the way down, interest rates are holding steady but look about to follow suit by mid-2024, property prices are holding fairly steady and there is general confidence about strong levels of pent-up demand in the housing market being released just as soon as buyers feel confident enough that they can comfortably afford their mortgage repayments.

That was the feeling last week – ‘we aren’t at the end of this but you can see it from here.’

And then all of a sudden, you switch on the news and people are talking about elections.

It’s so not helpful. Whether it’s another internal upheaval in the Conservative Party or a General Election – nobody needs it.

Why? Because elections mean uncertainty, uncertainty means doubt and doubt means sit tight.

Sit tight and see what happens. It’s the last thing we need right now and I don’t mean just us in the property sector – the entire economy would feel the pain.

2023 has been tough, right? But there has been tremendous resilience and the signs are that there could be better times ahead. So I have three words for our Westminster politicians: ‘Don’t. Do. It.’

You take the high road…

North of the border, it has been a slightly different story. While house prices have slipped by 0.5% in England and 2.7% in Wales, according to  iad UK, the self-employed agency, Scotland has been recording impressive price growth. Prices there have increased by 2.5% on the year sitting at an average of £195,387.

Lee O’Brien, managing director of iad UK says: “It’s the same with each of our nations. If you rely on media headlines, you’d reasonably think that house prices are cooling. But if we look closely, we see that Scottish prices have increased in the past year of significant economic turmoil.

“For buyers and sellers alike, it is vital to understand your local housing market not just the nationwide picture. That’s why a great estate agent with tons of local knowledge, brilliant market data and experience is always an important ally”

Hear! Hear!

Wedding bells

But while our elected representatives have been considering what can only be described as an act of self-harm, businesses have been getting on with planning for the future. This was well-illustrated this week with the news that Reapit and PayProp – two leading PropTech providers - are to merge.

Backed by the tech-focused private equity firm, Accel-KKR, the move offers their customers the opportunity to have a single provider that delivers services across sales, lettings, client account management and secure, automated payments.

Park Durrett, managing director of Accel-KKR said the marriage creates a major force in the PropTech Sector, providing a springboard for further growth.

The new entity will have a footprint in four continents with over a million properties under management.  Clearly both companies have their eyes fixed on far horizons. Exciting times….watch this space.

That’s a lot of dough!

Beauchamp Estates tell us this week that an apartment created from the conversion of Harrods Bakery and Chocolate Factory has sold to a European family for £18 million. The duplex apartment forms part of what was The Harrods Depositary and was designed by store architect CW Stephens.

The building is adjacent to the store and the two look almost identical.

The chocolate factory section of the building made a range of VIP confectionery including birthday and wedding cakes for the British and Iranian royal families. And get this….there was even a secret underground subway from the Depositary to the shop under Brompton Road so Easter eggs and chocolates could be ferried to the store without disrupting the shoppers or the traffic.

You’ve got to take your (top) hat off to them - they knew about style in those days.

Until next time..

If you’ve got a story you want me to Natter about, please get in touch at Press@angelsmedia.co.uk

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    2024 is bound to be a year dominated by politics because there has to be a GE by Jan 2025 at the very latest. Even though all of the main parties recognise the importance of the property market to voters and the economy, not one of them has a realistic solution to the fundamental long-term problem it faces, namely shortage of supply. Given this fact, the state of the property market will be peripheral in the minds of most politicians in the GE campaign - taxes, public spending, the NHS , immigration and the economy will all overshadow housing. Politics apart, I remain pessimistic about 2024 from the viewpoint of the economy because although some indicators appear to be favourable (eg inflation and potential cuts in interest rates), others are worrying (eg dire economic growth, rising business failures and increasing unemployment). Overall, the unhealthy mix of electoral politics and 'the dismal science' of economics will weigh heavily on the property market, with transactions levels remaining subdued and prices weakening further.


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